CAR’s Virtual Week on Parliament Hill
From November 2-6, the Canadian Association of Radiologists hosted its first Virtual Week on the Hill. For the last several years the CAR has traditionally hosted the Day on the Hill to coincide with the International Day of Radiology (November 8). The purpose of the Day on the Hill is to advocate for the advancement of radiology at the national level and to raise awareness of the important role that radiologists play in the healthcare system. Each year radiology leaders from across Canada would travel to Ottawa to meet with ministers, MPs, and senators to discuss our priorities for improving patient care delivery for Canadians. In the midst of the pandemic and in an effort to minimize the spread of the pandemic we shifted our focus to host meetings with MPs virtually. Despite the challenges of not meeting face-to-face, your Board of Directors represented the association with a high degree of professionalism and ease. We were fortunate to have over 18 meetings with MPs from across the country and from a range of political parties, including the Minister of Health’s office as well as various members of the Standing Committee on Health. The CAR Board representatives effectively communicated the CAR’s top priorities for medical imaging now and in the future.
Radiology Resilience Now and Beyond
The Radiology Resilience Now and Beyond report that analyzed the response to the pandemic helped to set the stage for the discussion. This, coupled with the advocacy work that was done over the years including the Conference Board of Canada’s Value of Radiology report, enabled us to provide an overview of medical imaging in Canada in the past, present and future.
The CAR’s “asks” for federal government investment focused on the following areas:
- Invest $1.5 billion in medical imaging equipment and health human resources.
- Create a National Data Science Institute to harness the strategic application of AI related to medical imaging for enhanced patient care and support a sustainable healthcare system.
Excessively long wait times for medical imaging and the need for an investment of $1.5 billion in imaging equipment resonated with all the MPs that we spoke to. There was a clear understanding of our focus on health human resources and MPs also responded well to the development of a National Task Force to create a strategy for the implementation of new technologies to augment the services of radiologists. Some of the MPs offered to champion these initiatives and to write letters to the Ministers of Finance and Health with these requests. We were very pleased with the reception that we received and did see the advantages of meeting virtually as it allowed for more uninterrupted focused time with political representatives.
Connecting with the Standing Committee on Health
In April the CAR had the occasion to appear before the Standing Committee on Health to convey the impact that the pandemic has had on medical imaging, exacerbating already lengthy wait times. It is essential that we keep the momentum going and the lines of communication open if we are going to make progress in helping Canadians to have timely access to medical imaging procedures. We have also been quite prominent on social media and in the traditional news media regarding these priorities, the unveiling of our Radiology Resilience report, wait times, Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the International Day of Radiology. We would like to thank our CAR superstar members who stepped up to represent radiology in Canada.
As a radiologist, you too can become involved by engaging in grass roots advocacy in your community. We encourage you to reach out to your MP and to talk about how the pandemic has impacted your practice. The more individuals we have communicating the same message the more successful we will be in our advocacy. We are here to help. Should you need tools or resource to assist you in your outreach effort please contact us at: [email protected].
To read more about our recent advocacy efforts please visit our website.