(ANNews) – Canadian Medical Association (CMA) members in Alberta have voted Dr. Alika Lafontaine as a nominee for CMA president in 2022–23. Dr. Lafontaine is an award-winning physician who practises anesthesia in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
He was born and raised in Treaty 4 Territory (Southern Saskatchewan) and has Anishinaabe, Cree, Metis and Pacific Islander ancestry.
Pending confirmation of his nomination by CMA General Council this August, Dr. Lafontaine will serve as president-elect until August 2022, when he will become CMA president.
Four other candidates – Dr. Vishal Bhella, Dr. Michael Giuffre, Dr. Noel Grisdale and Dr. James Makokis – took part in the election, with electronic voting from Feb. 11 to 25.
This election cycle saw the inclusion of two Indigenous candidates for the first time, the second being Dr. James Makokis. Dr. Lafontaine will be the first Indigenous nominee for CMA president in its history. Dr. Lafontaine will also be the first nominee for CMA president of Pacific Islander descent.
Having witnessed the impacts of the pandemic on the lives of physicians, Dr. Lafontaine promoted the issues of healthy working conditions, the physician social contract and the creation of a culturally safe health system. Among the actions he emphasized was achieving national licensure, an important step in preparing Canadian physicians for future health care crises.
“Mobility, employability and collaboration should exist in a post-pandemic world, along with the decreased stress, burnout and improved wellness that will result,” said Dr. Lafontaine.
“It’s also time to eliminate racism, sexism, ableism, classism and all other ‘-isms’ that permeate health system culture.”
As part of his advocacy, Dr. Lafontaine launched the Safespace Networks project with friendship centres across British Columbia. Safespace Networks is an anonymous reporting and learning platform that empowers marginalized patients to navigate health systems, supported by other patients, providers and stakeholders.
From 2013 to 2017, Dr. Lafontaine co-led the Indigenous Health Alliance, a health transformation project involving 150 First Nations and several national health organizations. In 2018, the federal government allocated $68 million to Indigenous communities involved in the project.
Dr. Lafontaine holds leadership positions with many organizations, including Alberta Health Services, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada. In 2021, he was also listed on the Medical Post’s “Doctors with Sway,” a list of the top 30 most influential physicians in Canada based on peer feedback.