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The CMPA is a not-for-profit association, incorporated by an Act of Parliament. Founded in 1901, the CMPA emerged from a need for physicians to work together to support their physician colleagues. While much has changed in the years since, the CMPA's tenet of mutuality — "for physicians by physicians" — has remained constant: the CMPA has a responsibility to its members, and members have a responsibility to each other and the CMPA.

The CMPA By-law establishes the rules that guide the conduct of the Association's affairs. The CMPA is governed by an elected council of 30 practising physicians representing specific geographical areas of Canada, as well as various clinical practices. The council is responsible for overseeing the business of the Association and to direct management concerning operational matters.

The CMPA's physicians have backgrounds in various areas of clinical practice and provide members with support and guidance in medical-legal matters. Legal expertise is provided by an independent general counsel and selected legal firms in each province.

The CMPA's multidisciplinary team collects and analyzes medical-legal information and determines risk trends. This contributes to the vast knowledge-base on which the Association's professional development programs, education materials, and policy positions are developed.