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As social animals we thrive when we have meaningful personal interactions with others. This is also true for our professional lives. Organizations like CAHSPR do not have the express aim of providing for our personal human interaction needs but are a key component of our research success. This applies to students starting out on a health services and policy career, researchers (both established and new), decision makers, or the public who rely on evidence-based policy to maintain or regain their health and wellbeing.

During the first two years of the pandemic, I wrote daily messages to the staff and faculty at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy. I felt that one of my roles as director was to connect regularly with our team of research scientists, analysts, project support staff and centre administration staff. We had transitioned from being a tight knit group with daily contact to all working from home. Some of us were caring for children who would normally have been in school or daycare, sometimes with inadequate space for privacy or even a desk for a monitor. Others were concerned about the well-being of elderly family or friends while none of us knew how or when this would end. I did not have any answers about the pandemic, nor did I try to provide any. I did however understand the importance of being connected during this challenging time.

Having benefited from the mentorship, increased knowledge, and friendships gained over many years of attending CAHSPR meetings, I was pleased to be able to give back to the CAHSPR community through participation on the Board. I believe CAHSPR serves a crucial role in providing a venue to support the growth and development of a dynamic health services and policy community in Canada; through knowledge sharing and by providing the venue for meaningful research and policy interactions. While our annual meeting has always been the foundation of this role, we have made significant progress in expanding our activities through webinars throughout the year and reenergized theme groups that focus community.

The program for the meeting this year demonstrates our commitment to providing high quality, challenging sessions that address the crucial issues we face as a health services community. I am proud of our response to the challenges of the pandemic and confident that CAHSPR is ideally placed to grow in the future. Like all voluntary membership organizations, we are highly dependent on the contributions of our members. I am honored to have led a highly committed and passionate board of directors. We have not always agreed but any disagreement was bound by mutual respect that allowed us to learn from each for the benefit of CAHSPR and I dare say, our personal growth.

We have an outstanding, passionate and creative administrative team led by Maggie Keresteci our energetic Executive Director, and Sally Clelford and her team who have provided management and event support to CAHSPR for many years. The perfect storm of an unprecedented pandemic at a time when our healthcare system was showing significant signs of distress leaves us now with the greatest challenge Medicare has faced since its inception. I look forward to continuing to work with Stirling Bryan, the incoming CAHSPR president and the CAHSPR community by playing a creative, positive, and unifying role in meeting this challenge.

Alan Katz

President, CAHSPR