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Report to the Members of the Canadian Society of Homeopaths
From the Founding Board of Directors
Presented at the General Members' Meeting
November 24, 2006, Vancouver, BC
The Founding Board of the Canadian Society of Homeopaths is pleased to announce the election of a new Board of Directors. They are: Judi Adema from Smithers, BC; Juliana Barnard from Halifax, NS; Lisa Decandia from Toronto, ON; Barbara Etcovitch from Montreal, QC; Brenda Malin from the Battlefords, SK; Rami Shami from Mississauga, ON; and Jo Twiss from White Rock, BC. It is encouraging to note that these new Directors come from across the country and will represent the interests of all our members in Canada.
As the new Board looks forward to a new term of office, this Founding Board looks back with satisfaction on a year of progressive behind-the-scenes organization and a number of accomplishments. Highlights of these achievements include:
● Membership grew to over 360+ members
● Registry of professional homeopaths and corresponding Professional Standards committee created and developed throughout the year
● Members celebrated Homeopathy Awareness Week, April 10-17, across Canada
● CSH awarded World Homeopathy Awareness Organization’s prize for most successful Awareness campaign in the world!
● Board responded in detail to government proposals concerning Natural Health Products and legislated professional regulation in Ontario
● CSH Ontario members voted to authorize Affiliate agreement with Ontario Society of Homeopaths
● Provisional Affiliate agreements signed with Ontario Society of Homeopaths and West Coast Homeopathic Society
● National and international contacts established with many homeopathic organizations
● Formal and informal alliances forged to monitor regulations and proposed legislation by federal and provincial governments
● Group professional liability (malpractice) insurance plan negotiated for our Registered members
● Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD) accepted CSH proposals that will allow professional homeopaths to import both dry and liquid homeopathic medicines for administration to their patients
● Legal fund established and funding proposal sanctioned by members
● Organizational, administrative, and committee structures developed
● Nominations and election of a new Board of Directors concluded
● Website constructed where more details can be found pertaining to all the above
For a volunteer organization that is less than a year old, this is a remarkable achievement!
Although CSH effectively started on January 1, 2006, our roots lie deep in the recent history of West Coast Homeopathic Society (WCHS). The first suggestions of what would become a national organization started about 4 years ago as more and more non-BC homeopaths and students became members of WCHS, attracted by its philosophy, advocacy leadership, and membership support. Within a couple of years, members from BC were joining those from other provinces to urge the Board to change the name of WCHS to something more representative of the existing membership, which had grown literally to span from coast to coast. There was the expectation that a new name would give members across the country a sense of ownership in the Society, leading to their involvement with and leadership in all levels of activity. Thus, in 2004 the Board agreed to send out an informal poll to get members’ feedback to this suggestion, followed in 2005 by an official mail-in ballot requesting membership approval to investigate the potential ramifications – both of which resulted in overwhelming support for the idea of a name change.
At the same time as members were asking for a new name, the WCHS Board was receiving many enquiries about expanding the scope of member services to include a national liability insurance plan and a national registry. After 2 years of investigation, the Board negotiated and approved a group liability insurance plan for professional members, effective June 16, 2005. There was no action taken on a national registry, however, since WCHS was not a national organization.
At the May 2005 AGM, WCHS membership instructed the Board to investigate the possibility and ramifications of changing the Society’s name to something more national. However, it was quickly discovered that although a name change was possible, as long as the Society was incorporated in BC, the Directors would need to reside in the province at least 6 months of the year. Clearly the Board could not recommend changing the name of WCHS since the benefits would be cosmetic only, with no provision for equal status to all members.
Almost as soon as the 2005 Conference/AGM had concluded, the WCHS Board was called upon to respond to the question of government regulation of the homeopathic profession in Ontario. Recognizing that decisions made in one province would eventually affect the status of homeopathy in all provinces, we acted on behalf of all WCHS members and submitted a thorough rebuttal to the proposal (see About WCHS, June 2005 on the <www.wchs.info> website). At the same time, we explained the situation in detail to our members, resulting in at least 40 individual letters sent in opposition to the proposed regulations.
During this process, WCHS was functioning as a national organization, but we were hampered by our regional name. Although we were representing over 50 members residing in Ontario, we were not consulted regarding subsequent meetings held with the Ontario agency (HPRAC) and other provincial and national organizations. Nor were we immediately invited to participate in the Ontario Homeopathic Coalition that grew out of this debate. However, once we had established dialogue with this group, several of its leaders (some already WCHS members) added encouragement to the growing pressure to find a way to establish a national professional body. In particular, they urged us to establish a national registry before the HPRAC report was filed in March 2006.
In the meantime, the journal Lancet created an international furor by publishing highly inflammatory – and unreliable – articles about homeopathy. WCHS joined the international homeopathic community in condemning their findings. A copy of the Board’s response can be accessed on the WCHS In the News webpage, dated August 29, 2005.
Preparation for the Hahnemann 250th anniversary celebration in Vancouver reinforced the desire for a separate national organization. This event reminded local members that WCHS used to focus more on community building, social events, and networking opportunities. Clearly there was the need for WCHS to find a responsible way both to resume its original path and to develop a new organization that all Canadian homeopaths could participate in and that would satisfy their needs.
Although there was consensus that a national organization was needed to take over the responsibilities that WCHS had to its members across the country, there was nothing that WCHS itself could do to affect this change. The only solution would be the creation of a separate, federally-incorporated professional association that provided a national name, national political representation, and a national registry.
Thus, the individual Board members of WCHS started the process that has lead to the creation of CSH. Each of us agreed to form a separate organization that would act as the Interim Board of CSH until its first election of new Directors. Our aim was to create a national professional association that reflected the expectations of all WCHS members and that would gradually take over many of the WCHS national responsibilities. Our other objective was to create a way to streamline the workload of volunteer organizations, to avoid duplication, and to co-ordinate public education, political action, and media response projects that would be put into action by local organizations. We were motivated by what we believed to be best for WCHS, homeopathy in general, and the WCHS membership across the country. The impetus for initiating and fast-tracking the creation of CSH came directly from the membership of WCHS, from other provinces as well as from within BC.
Today, it comes as a surprise to realize – even for those of us who were closely involved with it – that a year ago, the Canadian Society of Homeopaths did not even exist. Our membership year officially began January 1, 2006 and since then the transition from WCHS to CSH has proceeded as expected. CSH has now assumed responsibility for those WCHS activities that affected members across the country, such as the Directory and group liability insurance for professional members, and various projects affecting all members that fall under Public Awareness and Education, Political Action, and communications.
Ahead of schedule, CSH has finalized provisional arrangements with independent provincial organizations (or Affiliates) in BC and Ontario, specifically the already established West Coast Homeopathic Society and the Ontario Society of Homeopaths, which was formed last June. CSH will handle the workload and expenses involved with membership for the Affiliates while the provincial organizations will assist with developing various initiatives of mutual interest and help to put them into action on the local level.
The Board was also honoured to receive recognition for our Homeopathy Awareness Week promotion from the World Homeopathic Awareness Organization, which selected CSH to receive an award for "the greatest contribution towards homeopathic awareness". Such distinction by our international peers, especially from among so many other deserving organizations, was praise indeed.
Membership has been another major accomplishment for our Board this year, which has grown to include over 360 members across Canada.
But most of what the Founding Board has accomplished has occurred behind the scenes. An example of this involves our Political Action activities. This time last year – before CSH was even formed – our members on behalf of WCHS were investigating concerns about restrictions on importing homeopathic medicines. This required intensive study of federal government websites in order to understand the expectations and implications of the regulations, plus consultations with representatives of many other organizations and the Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD) in Ottawa.
Based on our findings, last November WCHS organized a country-wide lobbying blitz of our federal MPs, which quickly resulted in the NHPD agreeing to a meeting of all professional organizations. Although the meeting was cancelled because of the election, it eventually materialized last Spring as separate meetings in Ottawa and here on the West Coast. The Board was pleased that both meetings were attended by many of our members representing several organizations and schools.
By this time, CSH representatives had concluded that the current importation difficulties could be avoided through a re-interpretation of the NHPD definition of raw materials and compounding. It was our position that remedies used for compounding by a practitioner should be considered a raw material, thus falling outside the site licence requirements and associated restrictions for importing Natural Health Products. In particular, we stressed that dry remedies must have equal recognition with liquid potentizing remedies. I am pleased to report that recently we were informed that the NHPD has accepted both dry and liquid remedies in their new definition of raw materials and so once again both forms may be imported by homeopathic practitioners.
One success, however, does not mean that all is well with the NHP regulations. Restrictions still exist against thousands of homeopathic remedies that are not included in the list of recognized homeopathic medicines and CSH must continue to monitor this discrepancy and work to reverse it.
Another Political Action challenge arose earlier this year when Ontario’s HPRAC announced its recommendations for regulation of the homeopathic profession in that province. Again, after a great deal of research, CSH was able to advise our members of some of the significant concerns pertaining to these proposals that would require all Ontario homeopaths to be regulated under a combined College of Naturopaths and Homeopaths. Not only did we object to the proposed shared College, but also we felt that at this time most of our members would not be able to afford the financial burdens associated with government regulation. Following our earlier success getting the attention of the federal NHPD, we took our concerns to the elected representatives in Ontario through a letter-writing campaign. Members from across the country (though primarily from Ontario) wrote to express their individual concerns, drawing attention to the fact that these proposals were not widely accepted within the homeopathic community. At this point, we are pleased to note that the anticipated legislation due out in September has not yet materialized.
CSH is not alone in opposing the HPRAC proposals. We have been actively involved with other homeopathic leaders in Ontario, such as NUPATH, OSH, and several schools. Our representatives keep in touch regularly with a group assembled by our Affiliate, Ontario Society of Homeopaths (OSH), which is monitoring the government’s agenda and preparing a detailed response to the mis-representation and errors about homeopathy contained in the HPRAC Report. We plan to be prepared for any future developments.
Like our Political Action activities, much of the work that the Founding Board of Directors has been involved with during this past year is often not apparent. However, we are pleased to report that the transition from WCHS to CSH has been completed. All of our initial expectations for the new Society have been put into motion and an organizational structure has been established for others to build on. It is therefore with mixed emotions that we acknowledge the beginnings of CSH and at the same time, look forward to its future under the leadership of a new Board of Directors. We wish them and all future Boards much success in achieving the aspirations of all the founding members.
Jo Twiss, President
November 24, 2006
On behalf of the Canadian Society of Homeopaths Founding Board of Directors:
Nathalie Desrochers Allen
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