There is no room for systemic racism

July 3, 2020

Dr. Christine Molnar, AMA President

Dear Members:

The world-wide outcry against systemic racism has resounded broadly. Canada and Alberta have been no exceptions. Within our profession, there has been commentary from the Canadian Medical Association and by the provincial associations.

The AMA issued the following statement via social media on June 3:

“Each of us has a role to play in opposing systemic racism. As physicians dedicated to serving patients, we believe a healthy environment strives for equity and embraces, respects and values our differences.

“Inclusive cultures strengthen our country, and our health. This supports a sustainable system in which all Albertans share the benefits - patients and their families, physicians and all health care team members.

“With system partners, we have a commitment to co-creating safe, healthy, equitable and inclusive cultures where all are respected, valued and supported fairly to achieve their full potential.”

Members who don’t follow social media will have missed this statement and I thought it was important to share it widely.

Our humanity is the keystone of support for healing in our profession. We must guard it, support it, and engage fully with it for our own health and that of our patients. That humanity does not distinguish color or race. On that basis we approach our calling. Physicians are not a commodity, we are human beings dedicated to the art and science of healing. The current COVID-19 environment is a real-life demonstration of that humanity. Physicians have stepped up, along with other health care professionals and frontline workers, willing to risk our lives to serve others, to protect the vulnerable and the disenfranchised. There is never a place for racism.

In the past few years the AMA has developed the Healthy Working Environments initiative. The Board’s goal for HWE is:

“The AMA is committed to working with and for physicians to address system issues which impede attaining a safe, healthy, and equitable working environment.”

There are few greater impediments to this goal than systemic racism.

We will continue to advance the three dimensions of HWE: Psychosocial Wellness and Safety, Leadership; and Diversity and Inclusion. We are invested in co-creating safe, healthy, equitable and inclusive cultures where all are respected, valued and supported fairly to achieve their full potential while improving patient outcomes, and supporting system sustainability. This extends to all Albertans: patients and their families, physicians; and all health care team members. You can read more about the AMA’s Healthy Working Environments initiative on the AMA website.

I would also encourage you to review the Canadian Medical Association policy document Equity and Diversity in Medicine. Among other thoughtful recommendations, the CMA calls on medical organizations, institutions and physician leaders to “take a leadership role in achieving greater equity and diversity by co-creating policies and processes that apply to them, and the individuals therein, in an accountable and transparent manner.”

The AMA’s work toward achieving HWE is a powerful statement of our commitment to ends like these.

Painful events leave their mark, whether past or present. Let our pursuit of equity, diversity and inclusion strengthen our humanity and create a better future.

“I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one ‘race’- the human race - and that we are all members of it.”

- Margaret Atwood

In your service,

Christine P. Molnar, MD, FRCPC
President, Alberta Medical Association

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Alberta Medical Association Mission: Advocate for and support Alberta physicians. Strengthen their leadership in the provision of sustainable quality care.