President's Message

Guillaume Charbonneau, MD, CCFP, FCFP

Let’s celebrate World Family Doctor Day

In 2010 the World Organization of Family Doctors, or WONCA, declared May 19th World Family Doctor Day. It presents a wonderful opportunity to remind ourselves of the important role family physicians play in and the contributions they make to health care systems both at home and abroad. This year’s theme is: “Family doctors—leading the way to better health.”

Click here for the World Family Doctor Day logo and posters:

There are many reasons why we should be proud of being family physicians. We know that health care systems with strong primary care services generate better results in terms of population health, health equity, and cost-effectiveness.

It is equally important to remember that, in Canada, our contributions go beyond primary care. We are also important providers of emergency services, maternal and neonatal care, hospital care, home care, and long-term care.

Furthermore, we adapt our practices to the needs of our communities, and many of us develop an expertise in other domains to better address those needs. This level of flexibility can be demanding, but we do it to improve the availability of services locally and regionally.

We are experts in medical generalism. This expertise is difficult to acquire and maintain, but it is essential to respond more efficiently and cost-effectively to the needs of the population.
It is important to remember that approximately 19 per cent of the Canadian population lives in a rural area.1 They are served by only 8 per cent of Canadian physicians, and most of those physicians are family doctors.2

Family medicine is almost non-existent in many countries. Through the Besrour Centre the College of Family Physicians of Canada seeks to create partnerships with physicians abroad, and supports them in developing our discipline in their countries by sharing our expertise and Canadian experiences. These relationships also allow us to learn from our partners so we may continue to advance our specialty in Canada.

Let us join our colleagues around the world in celebrating our specialty. Let us be proud of being family doctors and ensure that the true value of our discipline is recognized. We must also always strive to increase our value by improving the quality of care we provide and our accessibility.


1. Statistics Canada. Census Program website. 2015. . Accessed 2018 Apr 26.

2. Canadian Institute for Health Information. Supply, Distribution and Migration of Physicians in Canada 2015 – Data Tables. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Institute for Health Information; 2016.

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