Recently I had the chance to participate in Saskatoon Change Makers, one of the Broadbent Institute’s first events to enhance capacity for people to work for positive change. This emphasis on training and leadership recognizes that it’s not enough to have the best ideas; winning campaigns, electoral or issue-based, requires the organization and skills to do so.Read more
Surrounded as we are by the tunes and decorations of the holiday season, Industry Minister James Moore’s recent uncharitable comments about child poverty and hunger invoke inevitable comparisons to Charles Dickens’ famed miser Ebenezer Scrooge. One could easily imagine Scrooge haughtily asking his nephew, “Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I think not.”
The spirit of Moore’s comments offend the many Canadians who do think that if their neighbour’s child goes hungry it ought to concern them, that our responsibility for each other goes beyond the walls of our own homes. The attitude behind such comments is far from admirable, and disappointing to hear voiced by any elected official. It’s a position far from the values of Canadians.
Perhaps more disturbing from the Federal Ministry of Industry, however, is the comment that poverty is not Ottawa’s problem.Read more
Social factors play a significant role in determining whether we will be healthy or ill. Our health care is but one element of what makes the biggest difference in health outcomes. This has been understood for centuries, and empirically validated in recent decades with study after study demonstrating health inequalities between wealthy and disadvantaged populations.
Yet political conversations about health still tend to fall into familiar traps. When we talk about health we return by reflex to doctors and nurses, hospitals and pharmacies. And when we talk about politics — the field of endeavour with the greatest impact on what determines health outcomes — a narrow and economistic outlook seems to trump any attempts to address those social determinants.Read more
I attended the annual meeting of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) as a representative of Canadian Doctors for Medicare last year. The meeting was not at all what I'd expected.
The CMA, as a professional association representing doctors, has often been seen — fairly or unfairly — as working primarily for the interests of the physicians it represents with patients and health equity appearing at times to be an afterthought. This impression was particularly prevalent during the presidencies of Brian Day (2007-8) and Robert Ouellet, (2008-9), both vocal advocates for privatization (and owners of private, for-profit health care facilities) who used their tenure to advocate for greater private payment for essential health services.Read more
This past week, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall took to Twitter to ask the question: “Is it time to allow people to pay for their own private MRIs in Saskatchewan like they can do in Alberta?” This came after a radio show in which he’d received a call from a patient who’s been waiting three months for an MRI — one of many Saskatchewan patients who are, understandably, frustrated by long waits for essential imaging services.
These wait times are a real problem. For that reason, we should be very wary of false solutions, and look first to evidence before rhetoric takes over.Read more
On June 18, 2012, I joined dozens of health care providers and concerned citizens in Saskatoon for the 1st National Day of Action against the cuts to the Interim Federal Health (IFH) program, which then offered health coverage to refugees in Canada.
Health providers in scrubs and lab coats, sporting stethoscopes and placards with slogans, marched in similar demonstrations across the country. I remember being struck then by the fact that 50 years earlier in Saskatoon, doctors had gone on strike in opposition to the introduction of universal health insurance. Now here was a movement of physicians and other health professionals taking to the streets to defend universal care for the most vulnerable.Read more
Ryan Meili is a family doctor at the West Side Community Clinic in Saskatoon. He also works for the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan as head of the Division of Social Accountability, where he’s responsible for helping ensure that Saskatchewan’s future doctors are equipped to meet the health needs of the diverse communities they will serve. Ryan also serves as vice-chair of the national advocacy organization, Canadian Doctors for Medicare.
He has recently published his first book A Healthy Society: how a focus on health can revive Canadian democracy with Purich Publishing of Saskatoon.
From its inception, Ryan has been involved in SWITCH, the Student Wellness Initiative Toward Community Health, a student-run, interdisciplinary, inner-city clinic whose mandate is to bring students from nursing, medicine, social work, physiotherapy, pharmacy, nutrition, and numerous other disciplines together to serve the residents of Saskatoon’s core communities.
Ryan also runs the College of Medicine’s Making the Links program, which gives medical students the opportunity to work in Northern Saskatchewan (Île à-la-Crosse, Pinehouse, and Buffalo River Dene Nation), at SWITCH, and in the rural communities of Mozambique in southeast Africa. One of the program’s goals is for students to gain firsthand knowledge of the social factors influencing health by living among and working with diverse peoples.
Ryan lives in Saskatoon with his wife, Mahli, who is training to be a pediatrician, and their son, Abraham.*
Ryan Meili est médecin familial au West Side Community Clinic à Saskatoon.
Une biographie sera bientôt disponible.