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SMA Physician Health Program plans new initiatives with funds from Scotiabank, CMA and MD Financial Management

The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) is a beneficiary of a new initiative that is funding physician health and wellness programs across the country.

Scotiabank, in partnership with the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and MD Financial Management, has created the Physician Wellness+ Initiative, with $15 million targeted to address the urgent and ongoing health and wellness needs of physicians and medical learners. Funds will be allocated over four years to each provincial and territorial medical association and key medical organizations.

The SMA will receive $1 million over four years and will use the funds to develop initiatives under the Physician Health Program.

“We are very appreciative of this funding, which will allow us to pursue additional health and well-being initiatives for learners and our physicians,” said Brenda Senger, who is director of Physician Support Programs for the SMA and is based in Saskatoon. “We look forward to implementing our initiatives and assessing their impact on the professions’ health.”

The Physician Health Program, which also includes Jessica Richardson, clinical coordinator in Regina, plans to use the funds for the following:

  • Gain insight on SMA member experience with equity, diversity and inclusion. The initial focus will be to build a shared understanding and awareness of inequitable and discriminatory practices within the SMA.
  • Create a physician information and education hub. This will include creating a robust website that provides easy access to online education supporting physician health, with links to available supports and assistance.
  • Undertake a needs assessment and ongoing monitoring of physician health in Saskatchewan. Through an online survey, health and wellness needs of physicians and medical leaners will be identified, including what they perceive to be working well and identified gaps in services.
  • Provide medical learner nutrition. This will provide healthy food options in hospitals for medical learners between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m., when food service is not available.
  • Provide financial remuneration to physicians providing critical incident stress management debriefings and individual peer support sessions.

The contribution is part of an ongoing 10-year, $115-million commitment by Scotiabank, MD Financial Management and the CMA to support Canadian physicians and their communities. The Physician Wellness+ Initiative comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has exacted a toll from the medical profession.

A recent survey of Canadians on the long-term effects of the pandemic found 93% of respondents were concerned about the impact it would have on the Canadian health-care system. Nearly all survey respondents (95%) said that the health and wellness of physicians affects the health of all Canadians.

“COVID-19 has impacted our communities from coast to coast, and physicians stand at the centre of our country’s ability to respond,” said Glen Gowland, Group Head, Global Wealth Management at Scotiabank. “Scotiabank is proud to have made contributions that will help alleviate challenges posed by COVID-19 and to now contribute additional longer-term funding to support the health and wellness of the medical profession.”  

“Being a physician today comes with a great many stressors – diminishing resources, heavy workloads, not to mention the risks associated with COVID-19,” said Dr. Ann Collins, CMA president. “We need to take care of our medical community in order for them to take care of patients. This funding will address the needs of physicians and medical learners by leveraging and bolstering existing health and wellness infrastructure while also extending support in new ways.”

“For more than half a century, MD has proudly supported physicians so they can better focus on their critical role: looking after the health of Canadians,” said Daniel Labonté, president and CEO, MD. “Canadian physicians work to an exceptional standard, and we are pleased to stand behind the Physician Wellness+ Initiative.”

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