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I was astounded to read that Toronto City Councillor Robert Ford went on record as saying that doctors should not be advocating for the poor.1 Ford went so far as to file a complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario against Dr. Roland Wong, a family physician who had found a novel way to allow welfare recipients to obtain financial assistance for food to avoid diet-related problems. Ford considers this going well beyond the duties and responsibilities of doctors.
The poor have greatly increased risks of cardiac disease and diabetes, among other problems. I find it extraordinary that a city councillor would think that a doctor advocating for his poverty-stricken patients is doing something out of line.
I am also concerned that the complaints process is being used inappropriately in this instance. If one can put pen to paper, one can put the college’s complaints process in motion, no matter how vexatious or frivolous the matter. This situation constitutes harassment of a well-intentioned physician. One can only hope that reason prevails when the matter goes to a hearing at the college.
For the full letter, go to: www.cmaj.ca/cgi/eletters/182/9/E401