Bylaws, logo, website, incorporation -, fifteen months have passed since CAPA took its first steps to independence. Within that short period of time a lifetime of commerce experience was absorbed by the members of the Steering Committee, all of whom played a role in moving CAPA forward. It feels like mere months since I submitted my application to the CAPA Executive to become a member of the Steering Committee. In fact, it has been three years. The advocacy work that I have been involved with during those three years is work that I am most proud of. Now as I assume the role of CAPA’s President, the third President since our inception in 2001, I am ready to build on my experience and face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
CAPA’s foundation is solid. Our arthritis advocacy priorities, timely access to medications, care and services; involvement in research decision-making; and member education and support are being met through our committee involvement. This year at our Annual General Meeting in Saskatchewan we added employment issues to our committee list and signaled member outreach for priority attention.
Disability in the workplace (getting employed and staying employed) is a circumstance in which many people with arthritis find themselves. The episodic nature of many forms of arthritis, unexplained and unexpected flares in our disease, and diminished capacity to remain on the job as a result of lengthy wait times for joint replacement surgery, are some of the reasons employers are reluctant to hire people with arthritis. In the workplace the single biggest obstacle reported by people with arthritis is the negative attitude of their co-workers toward the accommodation that is required to balance workload with disease management. Work related arthritis research is now telling the story that people with arthritis will only admit to silently. Over the next few years CAPA will advocate for systems change. We bring many voices, experience, perspective and partnerships to issues related to workplace disability. We also bring tenacity for change that will involve government, industry and business leaders, rehabilitation service professionals, pension plans administrators and people with disabilities.
CAPA will also focus on member outreach. Throughout the past year our profile has grown in the health community and membership has increased. The Outreach Program piloted with success in British Columbia in 2006 and 2007 will be further developed and expanded. Components of the program will include sustainability and mentorship.
To ensure we meet our goals, we have new faces on the Steering Committee each with skills that support the veteran members that remain. In addition, we have the continued commitment and guidance of outgoing members Anne Dooley and Linda Wilhelm.
CAPA’s direction is set, the path lies ahead, the transition continues.