Message from the President

Dr. Jennifer Young

December 14, 2018

Photo of OCFP 2018-19 President Dr. Jennifer YoungHello fellow family physicians.

This is my first message to you as your new OCFP President, written with a desire to connect with you, and hear from you in the upcoming two years.

I am a comprehensive family doctor now practising in Collingwood, and previously worked for several years in Africa and for a year in the Netherlands – both indelible experiences that help me to better reflect on our own healthcare system here in Ontario.

That reflection, and the work of the OCFP, is much needed. The past few years have been challenging ones for our profession. And now, the recent cancellation of the arbitration proceedings is shocking and unsettling for us all.

Ensuring family physicians can thrive in a profession that is rewarding is not only crucial for our members, but for patients too. Simply put, we are the backbone of health care and cannot be replaced.

The continuity of care and relationships we have with our patients keeps them out of hospitals, delivers the best health outcomes, and provides better patient experiences. It is well known that innovative and effective health systems are ones that invest in a robust primary care sector, anchored by family physician leadership.

The value of family medicine is clear to us because we live it every day. It is clear to our patients too. Now, more than ever, we need our role to be championed and respected for the value we bring to the health system.

You have asked us to be more than ‘the education college’, and I could not agree more. Yes, continuing professional development and practice supports are our ‘bread and butter’. But you also want us to be advocates, to champion your work, to be at the table discussing issues that affect your patients, your communities and your practice.

We hear you. And we are on it.

Most recently, along with Past President Dr. Glenn Brown and CEO Leanne Clarke, I met with the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Christine Elliott, to champion our members’ pivotal role in care delivery and in leading health reform. Deputy Minister Helen Angus and Associate Deputy Minister Melanie Fraser attended our November Board meeting to talk about priorities in primary care. And back at the end of September, we had Dr. Rueben Devlin describe the government’s work around ending hallway medicine.

In those meetings, we have reasserted the importance to have primary care be the foundation of the health system with family physicians as lead change agents. We have been advocating for greater access to integrated team resources for our members to help you care for complex patients who need this type of support. In this way, you can be supported to do what you do best - be the anchor for your patients throughout their medical journey.

Family physicians need a fairly negotiated agreement. As the next steps in the process between the government and the OMA unfold, we will continue, in all our conversations with government, to reinforce the need for a negotiated agreement that reflects your vital role.

I am grateful for the opportunity to represent you over the next two years, and I look forward to keeping you apprised of our progress and sharing my thoughts on family medicine. In turn, I hope to hear from you about how the OCFP can best support you.

In the coming two years, with the support of the Board and OCFP staff, I will bring the issues that matter to you and your patients to the fore. Because the value of family medicine needs to be felt by others as deeply as we feel it every day of our professional lives – for the benefit of our colleagues, our health system, and our patients.

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