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SMA and CMA sign Memorandum of Understanding

The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) and the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that establishes a new partnership between the two organizations.

The MOU sets out a process to work together on membership activities and joint initiatives that advance each organization’s shared priorities. The MOU was signed this month by Bonnie Brossart, CEO of the SMA, and Tim Smith, CEO of the CMA.

“Over the last year, physicians have reflected on their relationship with the Canadian Medical Association,” said Dr. Siva Karunakaran, past-president of the SMA. “I have been candid about my thoughts here: I believe that we are stronger together.”

“We cannot ignore the progress made on many fronts within the health-care sector across the country by other PTMAs and the CMA. A small organization such as the SMA can benefit immensely from maintaining a strong relationship with a national organization,” said Dr. Karunakaran. The terms of the MOU were developed under Dr. Karunakaran’s one-year term as president of the SMA, which ended on May 3, 2019.

In fall 2018, the CMA asked provincial medical associations, including the SMA, to consider looking into the future and what the relationship might be between provincial associations and the CMA. The CMA had begun consultations as a result of a new strategic plan, which also included examining future opportunities to support physicians. 

Alberta Medical Association leaders were first to explore what a future relationship with the CMA should look like. A draft MOU was created and shared with the other provincial medical associations. It set the parameters for the agreement between the SMA and the CMA.

The SMA Board of Directors received the draft agreement in early 2019, and after considering subsequent updates, determined it was appropriate to sign the MOU with the CMA.

“Our goal is to strengthen our collaborations and to explore where we can maximize impact for physicians in Saskatchewan, and all of Canada,” said Dr. Gigi Osler, president of the CMA. “We’re proud to formally acknowledge the strength and importance of the SMA-CMA relationship. We look forward to working together to improve health care for all residents of Saskatchewan.”

Part of the MOU is a commitment to investing a portion of CMA dues collected in Saskatchewan on initiatives in areas of common interest, including those that align with the following three pillars of the SMA’s Strategic Plan:

  • Physician health and wellness

  • Medical leadership

  • Member engagement/strengthening relationships

Dr. Karunakaran noted the CMA has the capacity to scale up initiatives nationally, which benefit all provincial medical associations.

“I believe that opportunities are always stronger when they are done in partnership, and we can benefit from the insight and wisdom and resources available to the CMA to approach and advance strategies that are relevant and impactful for our members locally,” he said.

The SMA board has affirmed physician wellness as a priority. That could be an area where future partnerships under the MOU are explored, suggested Dr. Allan Woo, president of the SMA.

Other projects could promote or advance physician leadership in the province. Physicians have taken key leadership roles with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, on the various committees and sections of the SMA and within their own practices, Dr. Woo noted.

“The supports we need to provide to physician leaders within the SMA and across our health system are crucial right now and I could foresee that some of the projects under the MOU should be dedicated to broadening and deepening physician leadership development opportunities above and beyond what we are already doing,” Dr. Woo said.

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