Open letter from Dr. Lawrence Loh
We’ve heard you – and we’re listening.
We know that times are difficult right now.
In fact, the College continues to raise awareness and advocate for concrete actions to be taken by governments to address the serious issues that our members face and that continue to impede patient access to family medicine as the foundation of health care. The need for better remuneration, relief for administrative burdens, coverage through locum supports, and more team-based care continue to be outcomes that the College is pushing for on your behalf. We will not stop until we see results.
On top of this, there is no question that finances are also a difficult subject of discussion.
Amid elevated levels of inflation, the College—like you—is dealing with higher prices and everything costing more. Like you, we, too, are running to stand still, to maintain the core offerings that support you every day. This includes the continuing professional development and communities of practice on which you’ve come to rely, the rigorous examinations and accreditation processes that backs your CCFP credential, and the focused advocacy, which no other organization does for family physicians: we are sitting at the tables that matter, that are exclusive to your professional interests.
We understand that these are extraordinary times, though, and that the proposed increase of $4.75 per month to member fees is just one more unwelcome thing to bear by some of our members.
That is why, in good faith, the College will be deferring this proposed fee increase for one year.
We do so to reinforce our commitment to you as members and demonstrate, through action, that we are very much in your corner.
This extraordinary one-time decision to defer, as supported by the Board; however, will mean the College now faces about a $4 million deficit this year.
That means this proposed fee increase will return to you in 2023 in some form. In the long run, no organization is sustainable if its revenues do not keep pace with the cost of living.
It also means that proposed changes to members classes will remain on the agenda, as this change will help streamline our membership processes and bring about operational efficiencies. A reduction in administrative load is something we think you will identify with.
We will also need to take the next year to examine every facet of the College’s operations to see where savings may be found. Being new to my role, I am committed to doing so while recognizing that this will be incredibly difficult for our College staff and leadership who have been unswerving in their dedication to our members, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
This deficit will almost certainly mean changes to what we do and how we do it, and though we will try our best to avoid a decrease in member services or a diminution of the voice of family medicine at the tables that matter, the reality is that all this work done in your name to serve you and advance your interests costs money. I do; however, want to reassure all of our staff that no decisions have been made at this time, and that I truly believe that most of our members understand and appreciate all that College staff do to support members and the stature of family medicine.
Finally, and most importantly, this means that together with the Board and the Leadership Team, I am also committed to taking the next year to hear from you. I hope you will take the time to get to know us as we will to get to know you. It is my commitment to be in more frequent contact and make the College more responsive to your needs and what you face each day. We will be launching a new strategic planning process in 2023, and your voice will be critical in determining the College’s future directions and operational foci.
Because in the end, this is about more than money. I’m hopeful that this fee increase deferral is the first step toward coming together to reignite our common sense of purpose. When times get tough, we are stronger if we come together, bringing our collective voice to bear in making change.
So, we’ve heard you—but now it’s up to all of us to figure it out.
Because the College of Family Physicians of Canada is your College, and we are stronger together.
I look forward to meeting—and building with you—over the year to come.
Lawrence C. Loh, MD, MPH, CCFP, FCFP, FRCPC, FACPM
Executive Director and CEO