CPSM Celebrates 150 Years

May 3, 2021 marks a milestone in the history of The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (CPSM). On this day in 1871, the Manitoba Medical Act was proclaimed, and The Provincial Medical Board of Manitoba was established (later renamed The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba). The Manitoba Government has issued a proclamation in honour of CPSM’s 150 years.

View the proclamation from the Manitoba Government here.

Times have changed and the evolution of the medical profession has surpassed anything the first Board of Governors could have imagined. Reflecting upon 150 years of our formation has reinforced one thing that has not changed: the resiliency of the profession. I am reminded of a monumental time in CPSM’s history which parallels the state of the world today.

Just years after CPSM’s inception, a smallpox epidemic broke out in the area now known as Gimli. The government imposed a quarantine and physicians from other parts of the province were called in to assist. A vaccination campaign became widespread, putting physicians in high demand. Examinations and licensing of the medical practice became a priority for CPSM.

Since the very beginning, CPSM has championed establishing, promoting, and enforcing high standards of medical practice. In 150 years, our standards have shifted from addressing early-stage issues in the profession such as poaching another doctor’s patients, to more modern priorities like Medical Assistance in Dying, prescribing practices, and virtual medicine.

CPSM works diligently to strike a balance between the protection of the public while providing leadership for quality medical care by physicians in Manitoba. Almost 70 years ago, a specialist certificate of practice was introduced to align ourselves with national developments. Later, CPSM took on the function of overseeing International Medical Graduates in obtaining licensure.

Physician demographics have changed over the past 150 years. All 46 registrants the first year were male, a contrast to the 38% female physicians that make up today’s membership. With diversity and inclusion being at the forefront of society, the medical profession in Manitoba is well ahead of other professions. International medical graduates practicing at clinics and hospitals across the province make up 33% of our registrants. We recognize we still have work to do and we have made addressing anti-indigenous racism in the practice of medicine a CPSM priority.

CPSM has existed through World War I, World War II, epidemics of typhoid, smallpox, scarlet fever, Tuberculosis, Spanish influenza, encephalitis lethargica, poliomyelitis, and now COVID-19. These events largely impacted the evolution of medicine. Manitoba physicians contributed to major advancements in microbiology, radiology, and many others that transformed the lives of Manitobans.

A lot has been accomplished in the first 150 years.

Today, CPSM continues its commitment to maintaining public trust in the medical profession and works collaboratively with the Max Rady College of Medicine, the Manitoba government, and numerous other organizations to ensure Manitobans have access to qualified and competent physicians.

Our commitment to public safety includes providing our members with resources, standards, and guidance to be the best physicians they can be, for the benefit of patients in their care. It is my hope you take a moment to reflect on your contributions to and influence on the profession. They have never been more critical.


Anna M. Ziomek, MD