May 20, 2024

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Zealous DEI commissars threaten integrity of Canada’s medical profession

7 min read

Wondering where all this goes? Look to New Zealand, where some hospitals have prioritized elective surgeries of Indigenous patients

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Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) breathes down the neck of nearly every profession. Lawyers are forced to adopt the vocabulary of left-wing activism, social workers are told to double as political agents and even the army has to participate in identity worship. Even medicine is not immune.

It starts in school: some Canadian medical schools begin internalizing DEI in their student bodies before admissions are even decided. Following the death of George Floyd in the United States in 2020, for example, Queen’s University dean (and exiled Liberal MP) Jane Philpott limited the school’s accelerated-track admission pathway to Black and Indigenous students only, setting aside 10 per cent of her med school’s seats for those groups.

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“Our faculty aims to become a leader in Canada in cultural safety, anti-racism, anti-colonialism and anti-oppression in health professions education,” Philpott stated at the time. Now, Queen’s is planning to overhaul med school admissions to make it even more equitable.

The term “anti-racism” usually doesn’t mean “being against racism,” but often instead amounts to “redirecting racism to level the playing field,” as characterized by notable anti-racist Ibram X. Kendi. “Anti-colonial” medicine, meanwhile, is rather oxymoronic, since the health professions, and modern medicine, are products of colonialism. There is no such thing as a pre-contact doctor, as that would require institutions for formal scholarly training and regulation — developments unique to the Old World.

Nevertheless, med schools are increasingly taking it upon themselves to carry out DEI. The University of Calgary created a special admissions pathway for Black students, entitling applicants to have their admissions essays evaluated by non-white assessors. McGill, the University of Alberta and Dalhousie have all done the same. Similar routes are offered for Indigenous students.

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Not only is it toxic to assume that students will only be judged fairly by, or benefit from the positive bias of, a panel of their own race, it’s unfair not to extend the same process to everyone else. There is no Asian admission panel, or white admission panel. This is about providing unequal procedural advantages to certain people purely on the basis of their ancestry. By doing this, the schools are encouraging future professionals to do the same.

The professorial side isn’t much better off, as med schools have their very own DEI committees that create administrative roles (read: promotion fuel) for academics with a penchant for identity Marxism. Physician-academics who believe in “white immunity,” the notion that Caucasians are “inoculated” against racial oppression, or complain that the term “chief” is problematically colonial, get an easy pathway into faculty governance by simply playing DEI hall monitor.

The profs don’t escape the quota system, either. Funding sources like the Canada Research Chairs Program are beholden to strict racial and gender requirements, resulting in postings that explicitly exclude white men. The University of British Columbia’s current search for a spinal cord rehabilitation scholar isn’t open to white men, nor is the U of A’s opening for a clinician-scientist in medicine.

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Beyond that, whole medical schools have transparently committed themselves to activism, abandoning the pursuit of truth for a mission of identity-based handicapping. See the University of Toronto’s Temerty School of Medicine, which “is committed to the principles of allyship, with the acknowledgment that people in positions of privilege must be willing to align themselves in solidarity with marginalized groups.” The school has offered faculty seminars on social justice praxis and teaches a five-step coping mechanism for handling microaggressions.

Identity politics don’t go away in the real world. Niche doctor groups demand that queer and trans-specific training are made mandatory in doctor education. Their ideas are mainstreamed in scholarly publishing: periodicals like the Canadian Medical Journal of Health even cover “greysexuality,” queer theory’s attempt at granting minority status to those “experiencing sexual attraction rarely or under specific circumstances.”

Far-fetched ideas become best practices at the behest of professional associations like the Canadian Pediatric Society, which holds the “affirmation” model to be the standard of care for children who identify as transgender, despite acknowledging that cross-sex dysmorphia often goes away at puberty.

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It’s even directly embedded into provincial health authorities. Alberta Health Services (AHS) developed an extensive DEI bureaucracy of practitioners, councils and committees, an “anti-racism advisory group,” as well as identity-based employee clubs (formally titled “workforce resource groups”). Monitoring employee demographics, including DEI “accountability” in performance evaluations and developing DEI training courses, have all been priorities since at least 2021 under AHS’s diversity framework.

That’s just in Alberta. The same ever-expanding network of support staff and committees can be found in other medical bureaucracies, courtesy of zealous adherents and naive old-school liberal health administrators. It doesn’t take much for the diversity committees of the last decade to metastasize and start infusing oppressor-oppressed struggle logic into every rung of the org chart.

Upstream from medicine is public health, which has also turned DEI from policy sideshow into policy centrepiece in recent years, particularly in B.C. and at the federal level.

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The next place DEI intends to colonize is the foundational set of themes that underpin physician training in Canada, the CanMEDS framework. Last revised in 2015, CanMEDS is up for renewal in 2025. The most radical change? DEI.

Doctors involved in the revision are proposing to make progressive-left values standard in physician training, including anti-racism, social justice, cultural humility, decolonization and intersectionality — all concepts coined by progressive, redistributive racialists who tend to despise western culture.

Health equity experts are all-in on this stuff, so expect the “experts say” coverage to be overwhelmingly positive. A preview is offered by Kannin Osei-Tutu, a medical professor at U of C, who recently hailed the upcoming CanMEDS revision as an “unprecedented opportunity” for transformation.

“Transformative change in medical education and practice demands explicit integration of anti-oppressive competencies,” he wrote in last month’s issue of the Canadian Medical Journal of Health (which only ever seems to publish one side of this great debate).

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“Progress hinges on cultivating a critical mass of physicians committed to this change, thus paving the way for more equitable and just health care.”

Wondering where all this goes? Look to New Zealand, a fellow British colony that has taken to reconciling with extreme self-flagellatory policies. In 2023, some of the island nation’s hospitals began prioritizing Indigenous Māori and Pacific patients on elective surgery wait lists on the basis of race.

“It’s ethically challenging to treat anyone based on race, it’s their medical condition that must establish the urgency of the treatment,” one anonymous doctor told the New Zealand Herald.

Plenty more like-minded doctors exist in Canada, but they are drowned out by heavy-handed administrations that insist on turning their profession into another stage of ideological performance. Their best recourse? Their provincial ministers of health and post-secondary education, who are uniquely empowered to turn things around.

National Post

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