CFPC: Understanding of poverty must be included in work on family violence and child maltreatment issues

March 7, 2014

(Calgary, AB – March 7, 2014) The College of Family Physicians of Canada’s (CFPC) President, Dr. Kathy Lawrence, attended today a roundtable on family violence and child maltreatment prevention hosted by the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister of Health.

“Family doctors witness firsthand the physical harm and stresses that impact mental health and wellbeing caused by family violence and child maltreatment,” said Dr. Lawrence. “We welcomed this opportunity to provide Minister Ambrose with the family medicine perspective.”

Family violence and child maltreatment involve an abuse of power and the violation of trust, and can include emotional or psychological abuse, economic abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and/or neglect. Most of the victims of family violence are women and children, who are affected by domestic abuse, and who risk long-term psychological damage that threatens to perpetuate the cycle of abuse across generations.

“As the former Minister for the Status of Women, the Minister brings an important perspective to family violence,” said Dr. Lawrence. “I was encouraged to hear her willing to fund a secretariat to assist in educating physicians and other health professionals in addressing family violence with a focus on child maltreatment.”

The CFPC hopes that attention to the impact of poverty and income inequality will be part of the work of the secretariat so that connections between family violence and child maltreatment can be made with the social determinants of health. The rate of spousal abuse is 16% for Canadians living with less than $20,000 in household income, versus 4% for those living with household income of $75,000 or more. The CFPC has called on the federal government to implement a national anti-poverty program; a request that appears in our paper entitled: “The Role of the Federal Government in Health Care”.

“The CFPC is dedicated to supporting the role of the socially accountable family physician,” concluded Dr. Lawrence. “Family medicine training helps to prepare family physicians to identify and address the health and social determinants of health impacts stemming from family violence and child maltreatment.”

The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) represents more than 30,000 members across the country.  It is the professional organization responsible for establishing standards for the training and certification of family physicians. The CFPC reviews and accredits continuing professional development programs and materials that enable family physicians to meet certification and licencing requirements and lifelong learning interests.  It also accredits postgraduate family medicine training in Canada’s 17 medical schools. The College provides quality services, supports family medicine teaching and research, and advocates on behalf of family physicians and the specialty of family medicine.

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