I have been privileged to assume the role of President of the Ontario Medical Foundation (OMF) over the past three years. Transforming our 50-year-old foundation into a modern organization that serves the evolving needs of Ontario’s doctors and their communities has been one of my objectives.
Transformation of the OMF has been a key priority for both the foundation and the Ontario Medical Association (OMA.) The support and engagement of both boards in this endeavour was, and will continue to be, a critical success factor throughout this journey.
Now, I can proudly say the foundation is well on its way to becoming a well-managed philanthropic organization. With a renewed focus, mandate and strategic plan, the OMF will be committed to engaging physicians in bettering the lives of the people of Ontario, particularly those impacted by social determinants of health.
I could not have achieved this without the hard work and dedication of the board, and staff, and for that I am grateful.
Dr. David Esser
Watch as the OMF transforms and continues to empower Ontario’s doctors in the coming years!
OMF Transformation and Renewed Purpose
The OMF’s journey in the arena of social impact began in Spring 2018, where the foundation introduced a charitable initiative during the OMA’s Annual General Meeting. OMA Council delegates participated and donated items such as clothing, used eyeglasses and household supplies to support the Canadian Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centre, CAMH Suits Me Fine and WomenAide. Later that year, it started the Shoebox Project Initiative, which has since been a yearly tradition for both OMF and OMA.
In Fall 2019, the foundation retained Global Philanthropic Inc. (Canada) to conduct a review in resetting its purpose within the context of the current strategic plan, resource allocation, and OMA / physician needs. The report included recommendations for:
- Stronger alignment between OMA and OMF
- Building and strengthening the OMF brand
- Creating a compelling case for support
- Recruiting a skilled philanthropy professional
The Broader Vision
In early 2020, the OMF Board made the decision to expand the vision beyond the physician community. This led to a significant reordering of the 2017 priorities.
During the intervening years, the OMF continued to evolve and grow. As the foundation has spent more time and energy focused on larger issues, the vision has shifted. It became apparent that the current vision was inadequate. There was a desire to engage members and the public on social impact causes. Based on research from member surveys (such as the 2018 OMA Council feedback), a strategic review of the OMF, and an environmental scan, along with support from the work of OMA Economics Policy and Research (OMA EPR), the OMF recognized that:
- High-impact philanthropy will grow
- Members were interested in social determinants of health and physician-led impact opportunities
- Physicians want a voice at the table for important health issues
“The OMA must represent the interests of all physicians. There is significant disparity among members of the OMA and the disparity most hurts disciplines that are in high demand. The OMA needs to be seen as a partner in improving health and not partisan, otherwise the government will select physicians it likes to advise on policy. The OMA needs to at least be perceived as having a social conscience. There are people living in Ontario who are in desperate need of equitable health services. The OMA is currently nowhere to be seen on advocating for these groups: Indigenous Peoples, refugees, people with mental health diagnosis and substance use disorders, etc. The OMA should be advocating for policies that clearly address issues facing these populations which will make the OMA more credible when advocating for physicians.” 2020 Ipsos Survey
In 2020, the OMF experienced first-hand the changing trends in philanthropy and the shift to social impact issues as we navigated through fundraising during the pandemic:
- Stakeholders and sponsors donated to the COVID-19 Campaign to raise funds for PPE.
- The OMF Virtual Gala was a tremendous success in building awareness of the OMF and setting the tone for the future of the foundation.
- There was tremendous engagement from members with the Shoebox Project.
The Renewed Focus
We engage and mobilize Ontario’s doctors to improve the lives of Ontarians through direct service, research, and advocacy.
The OMF looks now to the future with a new mandate that unifies, bringing physician voices into a social impact arena and engaging members differently. We also continue to honour the legacy of student bursaries, supporting the future physicians who we hope will also carry forward a mandate to help all Ontarians. The OMF has built a strong bursary program with dedicated donors, and so we will maintain and grow those relationships.
The OMF’s focus is no longer on physicians solely supporting physicians or medical students. Instead, it is to:
- Offer the expertise and action of our community of physicians
- Improve the health of all Ontarians through both direct service and the health-care system — with a focus on those adversely affected by social determinants of health
- Focus our work based on research and member engagement
2021 – 2023 Strategic Plan
Redirect the organization’s focus outward, capitalizing on the expertise of our physicians, amplifying their voice.
Build an infrastructure, both board and staff, that allows for growth and greater engagement with OMA members, general public, and corporate partners.
Known as a trusted partner in the re-shaping of Ontario’s health care system.
Engage physicians and the general public alike to build a fund that enables OMF to financially support the work of physicians improving Ontarians’ health, focusing on social determinants of health.