As Council nominations open this year, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share with the membership my experience on Council to hopefully give those that have an interest a better understanding of what it means and what to expect.
When I first ran for Council, my whole purpose and platform was to change the entire establishment. I thought I was going to change the world. A lot of previous Council members have felt the same way I did. I’ve been working in the profession since the early 90s and every few years there have been major changes. There were many times where I was really disgruntled with the College and our profession. What I quickly learned, and I now look back on as an area I would have encouraged my younger self to be more educated on, is the College’s and Council’s mandate of working in the public’s best interest. Council can provide direction to the College when it comes to the direction of the profession, but it is not Council’s job to run the day-to-day activities. This is where there can be a disconnect within our membership and the understanding of what it is that Council does and what is within your control as a Council member.
Another thing I’ve learned is that it’s not about what we do for our members and what our members get for their dues. It’s about what are we doing to ensure that we have the best paramedics on the streets and that the public is well taken care of every time they call 911. We ensure that the standards that members must follow are the best that we can make them. I quickly realized that I’m only one voice on Council and although I might have my own agenda that I want to see pushed through, I still have to work collaboratively with the other members of Council to make that happen. And sometimes my personal interests aren’t necessarily in the best interest of our profession or the public. Sometimes the changes we want to see aren’t within Council’s control.
There are days where you will have a difference of opinion between Council members. A lot of times there are heated discussions on the topics we feel the most passionate about. There may be times when you’re going to feel that you’re not being heard, which boils down to how much effort you want to put into Council. But at the end of the long days where we have had heated debates, there has always been moments of understanding that we are all passionate about different issues for our profession and we all just want what is best.
Council can be difficult because you can spend your whole term working towards a big change of direction for the profession for it to only come into fruition once your term ends, despite the work you have done to get it there. There is a lot of respect in that room. We all recognize the work and time it takes to make the big changes.
So, what do you need to bring to the table?
Most importantly, a sense of passion for the profession and where you want to see it go. The more involved you are, the better the decision making is at the table. This also means understanding the time commitment involved. Council meets five times per year with each meeting being at least one eight-hour day, sometimes two days. On top of that there is the prep work. To be successful on Council, members need to come prepared, and this can take many hours of reading documents that will be discussed. You get out of Council what you put in. If you want to sit at the table and make the changes that you’re passionate about, it requires the proper preparation to stand behind those changes and defend them. When it comes to legislation, you should have an understanding of the different pieces of legislation and how they directly impact us to make decisions. You don’t have to be an expert. You don’t have to understand the law. There’s a lot of learning that happens over the course of a Council member’s term so don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question.
And finally, you must want to have a seat in the car that is driving the profession forward. This is where the road of the profession is paved, and I encourage all members that want to have a voice to step up. You need to want to get involved with Council, but you need to have a clear understanding of what that involvement looks like. Do your research on Council and the legislation that governs you. Consider what you can change about the College or our profession while working within the mandate of the public’s best interest. Do you want to increase educational standards, to ensure that the practitioners who show up at your door are being held to the highest possible standards, to make sure that the institutions are teaching what we believe to be in the best interest of everyone involved? Because if that’s what you want then this is the place to be.
I would like to close this by saying our profession has been under a massive veil of negativity recently. The last two- or three-years morale has been at its lowest. We are tired. We are burned out. We don’t see any direction. There has been a lot to criticize with some of the lack of influence we seem to have in our own profession, and I get it. But what’s important to remember is that this is an opportunity for you to make a positive impact and to go and try and turn that perception around. Use that passion you have that’s focused on the negatives and turn that back towards a positive path for our profession.
We may not fix all of the problems. But we could potentially leave the profession stronger than when we got into it, and that’s, I think, a very positive goal at the end of the day.
Travis Lanoway, ACP
Vice President of Governance