In response to the recommendations of the Olivieri committee of inquiry, CAUT has established a task force on academic freedom for faculty at university-affiliated health care institutions.
James Turk, CAUT's executive director, said the experiences of Nancy Olivieri and David Healy make clear that academic freedom is a major issue for clinical faculty and researchers in university-affiliated hospitals and research centres.
"If health researchers and teachers are not able to speak freely, to share their findings with patients and colleagues and to publish their results in scientific journals, we are all at risk."
To remedy the situation, he said, the task force will review the state of academic freedom for clinical faculty members and health researchers. As well, it will review mechanisms and procedures for dealing with violations of academic freedom at each university-affiliated health care institution.
In addition, the task force will recommend model policies on academic freedom for universities and university-affiliated health care institutions, advise how CAUT can promote academic freedom at such institutions and recommend how clinical faculty members and health researchers in affiliated institutions can be provided with effective grievance and arbitration procedures.
Dr. Philip Welch, a medical geneticist and professor of pediatrics at Dalhousie University, will chair the task force. Welch was a founding fellow of the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists and is a former vice-chair of the Dalhousie University senate, a former president of the Dalhousie Faculty Association and a former vice-president of CAUT. Welch is a consultant in medical genetics to the major Halifax hospitals and to the major hospitals in New Brunswick and P.E.I.
"We are delighted to have a clinical faculty member of Dr. Welch's calibre to chair the task force," said CAUT president Vic Catano. "We are also pleased he will be joined by four eminent colleagues."
Alan C. Jackson is a neurologist and professor of medicine at Queen's University. He is also associate professor of microbiology and immunology, and attending staff (neurology) at Kingston General Hospital. He is on the editorial boards of the Journal of NeuroVirology and the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences and the board of directors of the International Society of Neurovirology. Jackson is treasurer of the Clinical Teachers' Association at Queen's.
Gordon Guyatt is a professor in the departments of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics and medicine at McMaster University. He is a clinical epidemiologist practicing secondary care hospital-based internal medicine. After being appointed director of the McMaster internal medicine residency program, Guyatt initiated a process that lead to adoption of a policy prohibiting pharmaceutical company access to residents as part of their program and related events. He has published more than 400 papers in peer-reviewed journals.
Carol E. Cass is professor and chair of oncology, the holder of the Canada Research Chair of Oncology and professor ofbiochemistry at the University of Alberta and associate director of research at the Cross Cancer Institute. She is a former president of the Canadian Society of Cellular and Molecular Biology and was a founding member of the executive of the Canadian Society of Biochemistry, Molecular & Cellular Biology. Cass is currently on the medical advisoryboard of the Gairdner Foundation, the selection committee of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and theadvisory board of the Institute of Cancer Research, Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Derryck Smith is psychiatrist-in-chief, head of the department of psychiatry andmedical director of the mental health programs at the Children's and Women's Health Centre of British Columbia. He is head of the division of child psychiatry at the University of British Columbia and is regional clinical psychiatrist, child and youth programs, for the Vancouver/Richmond Health Board. Smith is president of the Clinical Faculty Association at UBC.