Meet Dr. Alika Lafontaine, an award-winning physician and the youngest president in the CMA’s 155-year history. Of Métis, Cree, Anishinaabe and Pacific Islander ancestry, he’s also the organization’s first Indigenous leader.

Assuming this role in one of the of the most challenging times in recent history, Dr. Lafontaine is committed to transforming the current state of the Canadian medical system.

Since taking over as head of the CMA in August, Dr. Lafontaine has been speaking to health ministers, elected officials and medical professionals about his and the CMA’s vision for change – primarily, that Canadian leaders would focus less on reducing upfront health costs and more on patient outcomes and how best to achieve them, such as by investing in family-care providers.

One of the main things Dr. Lafontaine has pushed for is a national licensure for physicians, which would allow Canadian physicians to easily work anywhere in the country and immediately address current shortages. Many Canadians today are struggling to find a family doctor, and emergency departments are often short-staffed and over capacity, if they’re open at all.

Dr. Lafontaine is equally as passionate about the human resources shortage that’s causing strain at institutions across the country. Instead of addressing the issue, Dr. Lafontaine explained that hospitals have allowed health professionals to cover the shortfall by working too many shifts, beyond the point of exhaustion, creating potentially unsafe conditions.  

“Now the system is breaking because people have gotten to the point where they’re saying ‘I’m just going to walk away.’” he says. “I don’t believe Canadians realize just how close to the precipice we are, physician advocacy has never been more important.”.

However, Dr. Lafontaine has a plan to change Canada’s ‘faceless’ health-care system and put us on a better path forward. To start, his goal is to break down the silos between provinces and territories, to share information, people and resources in a more collaborative way. Next, he wants to move toward true team-based care.

“Physicians have a role, nurses have a role, pharmacists and other members of the health-care team have a role. And it’s respecting that we’re all trained differently and we all do different things well.” explained Dr. Lafontaine.

We have a long way to go, but there are advocates working hard for us to get there.

We’re better together.

 We got this,

- the formation team

November 07, 2022 — Stephanie Ahlborn