President’s Message

Rethinking Health Care: A Local and Global Perspective on Orthopaedics

Kevin Orrell, M.D., FRCSC,
President, Canadian Orthopaedic Association

Mr. Chairman, members and partners of the COA, special guests, ladies and gentlemen, Mesdames et Messieurs,

Since becoming President of the COA, Anne and I have had the tremendous privilege of travelling with the Carousel Presidents to South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. We have made many friends and have met large numbers of orthopaedic surgeons who hold Canadian orthopaedics in high esteem. It has been an honour to participate in international symposia and address the inquiries these other countries have about our universal health-care system.

Domestically however, we are all aware of the significant problems that are present as we struggle to care for our patients when provincial governments fail to provide the necessary resources to do so adequately. I am grateful to the large number of people with whom I have had contact, in both academic and community practices. There is a common denominator of increasing difficulty to care for our patients as we attempt to do more with less. These encounters identify that orthopaedic surgeons across the country have very significant concerns about the environment in which we work.

Access to care remains a Canadian embarrassment. The wait times for consultation, investigation and surgery, in all subspecialties, is unacceptable for a country that prides itself on universal health care. The COA is in the process of updating our position paper on “Access to Care” and invites provincial governments to partner with us to improve musculoskeletal health for all Canadians.

This situation is even more embarrassing for a developed nation that permits well-educated and highly-skilled young orthopaedic surgeons to be under-employed.  Although there has been some recent improvement in the number of orthopaedic surgeons seeking full time positions, this still remains a major concern for the COA. In the long term, training fewer surgeons will significantly impact the future of musculoskeletal care in Canada.

The COA is committed to establishing a stronger relationship with the provincial/regional orthopaedic associations. Our concerns are similar and it is hoped that stronger ties will increase our ability to initiate change. Cynthia Vezina, our Executive Director, Strategic Initiatives, and I had the privilege of attending the Ontario Orthopaedic Association meeting in Toronto in November for this purpose.

The COA is making efforts to address our common concerns. Each member has a role to play in making our organization stronger and more capable of challenging our policy makers on behalf of our patients. The COA Mid-Winter Meeting focused on many of the struggles we face on a daily basis. I would encourage everyone to communicate with us, and invite those with time and energy, to volunteer for committee work in our organization.

Throughout our travels, I have witnessed how Canadian orthopaedics is held in high esteem. Many individuals have distinguished themselves internationally. Congratulations are extended to Dr. Paul Beaulé and his research colleagues who recently received the 2018 Kappa Delta Elizabeth Winston Lanier Award at the AAOS meeting in New Orleans. The only other Canadian to ever receive this award was Robert Salter many years ago. Thanks to all who joined us for the very lively COA reception at the AAOS meeting.

The Local Arrangement Committee in Victoria is working hard on our behalf to host the 2018 COA Annual Meeting. A warm welcome is extended to all members to join together in Victoria for what promises to be a very educational and entertaining meeting.

I am most grateful for the opportunity to serve as your President this year. It has been a privilege to represent the COA and to work on your behalf to improve our ability to care for Canadians with musculoskeletal disease. Anne and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Victoria!