I have the distinct honour and privilege of assuming the role of CAHSPR President, succeeding Dr. Alan Katz, who will now take on the role of past-President, and working closely with Dr. Jennifer Zelmer, our incoming President-elect along with our dynamic Board of Directors.
CAHSPR is in a very good place – we have just wrapped up a wonderful annual meeting in Montreal, with over 600 delegates either in-person or on-line; we have a strong and highly engaged Board of Directors; our administrative leads (Maggie Keresteci and Sally Clelford) do an outstanding job running the Association; and, from a fiscal perspective, we have weathered the COVID storm (just!).
That being said, we must always strive to be stronger and healthier as an Association… as your professional Association. I found the plenaries at our Montreal meeting this year to be insightful and inspiring, both for the research I do and in reflecting on my new leadership role with the Association.
The first plenary (Protecting Truth and Science in an Age of Misinformation, with Peter Hotez, Steini Brown and Jillian Horton) gave us clear marching orders: stand up for truth and be brave in so doing. As an Association, we have an ability to act on this through our regular HSPR Talks sessions and at our conference, and in the other venues and conversations we find ourselves. We welcome suggestions on how we can be a stronger beacon for truth in health services and policy research in Canada.
The second plenary (A Conversation about Power, Privilege, Racism and Inequities in Canadian Healthcare, with Marcia Anderson, Andrew Boozary and Notisha Massaquoi) challenged us all, including our Association, to commit and to demonstrate that commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and to overcoming systemic racism and white supremacy in health systems, health research systems and health research associations. These are easy words to write – I acknowledge that – and tougher to act on but we need to be judged by our individual and collective actions.
The third plenary (Canada’s Health Workforce: Pathways Forward, with Serge Buy, Chris Simpson, Ivy Bourgeault, Marcia Anderson and Rick Glazier) gave us an overview of the work of a partner organization, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, on the crisis in and dominant challenge to health systems from coast to coast to coast, and beyond. This plenary spoke to me of the importance of our Association’s close connection to health systems, to understand needs and pressures, and to commit to bringing evidence-based support and solutions, especially in times of crisis. We have this opportunity now.
I was also very encouraged to see some international colleagues in Montreal and I hope we can foster ongoing pollination across jurisdictions through CAHSPR, both in terms of health services research findings but also in terms of how to run successful national associations! One small move is for us reciprocally to offer “member rate” conference fees to members of sister national organizations. This is a work-in-progress and we hope to formalize and share the arrangement very soon!
Finally, I want to share just how impressed I always am by the energy, enthusiasm and stellar contributions from members of our Association’s student working group. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to our trainees and to their leaders in CAHSPR: the outgoing student working group co-chairs, Marichelle Leclair and Sahr Wali and the incoming co-chairs, Rose Gagnon and Komal Aryal. I look forward to working with you, Rose and Aryal.
Summertime is now upon us and so I wish all CAHSPR members (and non-members!) and your families and friends a restful and restorative summer. If you are inspired to help build a stronger and healthier CAHSPR, come join us!