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NOSM Hosts Discussion with Federal Minister of Health

Posted on July 29, 2019

On Thursday, July 25, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine hosted a roundtable discussion with the Federal Minister of Health, Sudbury area Members of Parliament, NOSM faculty and medical students. Dr. Sarita Verma, NOSM Dean, President and CEO, welcomed The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Federal Minister of Health, Mr. Paul Lefebvre, Member of Parliament for Sudbury and Mr. Marc Serré, Member of Parliament for Nickel Belt.

The conversation opened with Dr. Alexandre Anawati (Emergency Medicine Physician at Health Sciences North and NOSM Alumnus and Assistant Professor) speaking passionately about NOSM’s Social Accountability Mandate. Dr. Anawati stressed the need to reimagine how we deliver health care to meet the needs of Indigenous, Francophone, rural and remote communities.

Dr. Sarah Newbery (Rural Generalist Family Physician in Marathon and NOSM Associate Professor) spoke about the health human resource challenges and the reality of practising in Northern Ontario. Physician shortages have been a long- standing challenge in the region, and though NOSM is committed to resolving the issue, there is still much work to be done.

A recent report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information says the number of opioid related hospitalizations is higher in smaller communities compared to larger, urban cities. Dr. David Marsh (Addiction Medicine Specialist and NOSM Professor) stressed the need for more resources to be dedicated to supervised consumption sites.

Dr. Kona Williams (Canada’s first Indigenous Forensic Pathologist and NOSM Assistant Professor) spoke to the social determinants of health in the North and the impact of residential schools in Indigenous communities. Dr. Williams also spoke about the high calibre of NOSM medical students and expressed appreciation of their level of understanding of Indigenous issues.

Many of the inequities discussed during the roundtable are attributed to systemic challenges faced by physicians and reality of serving a population spread over a large geography with a low population density, including many fly-in communities.

Three NOSM medical students, Pierre Plamondon, Miranda Waugh, and Doniya Quenneville, shared personal stories of living and learning in communities across Northern Ontario.