Nova Scotia physician presents emerging issue at CMA General Council in Vancouver

Nova Scotia physician presents emerging issue at CMA General Council in Vancouver

A Nova Scotia physician presented an emerging issue on the loss of physician autonomy to the health policy agenda at the 149th Canadian Medical Association (CMA) General Council (GC) in Vancouver.

“As more physicians are being told where to practice, how to practice and what services to provide, there are concerns that the autonomy of the physician as an independent contractor and patient advocate is significantly eroding,” said Dr. David Milne, anesthetist and past president of Doctors Nova Scotia.

The restructuring of Nova Scotia’s health-care system in combination with increasing oversight of physicians, has left many doctors uneasy about their independence and in particular, their ability to advocate on behalf of their patients.

“Although oversight is important, recent changes in Nova Scotia has created significant problems for many doctors including recruitment challenges, income instability, issues finding a replacement and patient advocacy challenges,” said Dr. Milne.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia (College) are increasing their oversight of physicians through privileging and soon, procedural credentialing. With that new oversight, some duplication has occurred in the health-care system. 

“Doctors Nova Scotia has been urging both the NSHA and the College to work together on issues such as licensing, privileging and performance reviews,” said Dr. Milne.

Much of the uneasiness being felt by Nova Scotia physicians is a result of their limited ability to influence and provide input into the changes that are affecting them, their patients and community. The most profound issues have been felt by doctors trying to enter or leave practice. The new processes and changing environment have made it very challenging to recruit and retain doctors in the province.

Other provinces have been through similar changes in recent years. 

Dr. Milne brought this issue to General Council so that physicians in Nova Scotia may benefit from the experiences of their colleagues from other provinces.

Members in attendance at the CMA GC discussed and endorsed the emerging issue to go back to the CMA Board to inform and create a future topic of discussion.

Doctors Nova Scotia represents over 3,500 members. Membership includes practicing and retired physicians, medical students and residents. Incorporated in 1861, it’s the oldest medical association in Canada.


Barb Johnson
Senior communications advisor
1-800-563-3427 ext. 4915