President's Letter

Dr. Alison M. Clarke, President, Alberta Medical Association

The "voice of the AMA" – The President's Letter informs you about Alberta Medical Association positions on key issues in Alberta’s health care.  

Comments on the President's Letter are welcome. Go to the most recent President's Letter (see the link below) to participate in members-only commenting.

You may also contact the AMA President by email at

For older issues of the President's Letter (and issues on other topics), visit the President's Letter archive.

President's Letters and news releasesRSS

AMHSP physicians – a vote and a new council

December 12, 2018

Recent changes in Alberta Medical Association governance and the passage of legislation on the rights of physicians to representation provide important new vehicles for physicians to bring their issues forward. The focus of this President’s Letter is on those academic physicians who are or soon will be part of the Academic Medicine Health Services Plan, and who now have the ability to request direct support in negotiations from the AMA.

SOMB retroactive increases coming this week

December 6, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: This fall, we have been moving forward on making payments owed to physicians under our Amending Agreement. The AMA issued the 2017 Retention Benefit payments on Friday, November 2. Today I’m writing to provide you with some dates and details about the retroactive payments for the Schedule of Medical Benefits and Alternative Relationship Plans cost-of-living adjustment.

An Act to Protect Patients

November 16, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: You may have heard news reports last week that the Government of Alberta had tabled Bill 21, An Act to Protect Patients. The legislation guards patients against exposure to inappropriate or predatory sexual behavior from their care providers. It applies to all regulated health professions, including physicians. The bill passed at the end of last week and is expected to come into effect in April 2019.

AMA legislation tabled today

November 1, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: You may recall that one of the important provisions of the 2018-20 AMA agreement with government was a commitment to entrench physician recognition and representation rights within legislation. I am pleased to let you know that this legislation was tabled today.

Changes to AMA/CMA member dues

October 18, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I’m writing today as membership renewal notices have been arriving in member inboxes. There are some member dues changes and I wanted to provide a few comments about them for your information.

AMA-CMA relationship and conjoint dues

October 1, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The Representative Forum had another successful meeting on September 21 and 22 in Calgary. Today, I am writing to update you on an important RF session regarding the relationship between the AMA and the Canadian Medical Association; including the question of continuing conjoint membership dues with the CMA.

A new president's thoughts on the year ahead

September 25, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: My year as president-elect flew by and on Saturday I assumed the position of president of the Alberta Medical Association. I wanted to share just a few thoughts as I begin my term.

Thoughts at the end of my presidency

September 23, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Wow! That went fast! I was told when I became president that the year would go by very quickly and even still I am blown away by how quickly it has completely disappeared on me. This has been altogether the most rewarding, challenging, exciting, sobering, ego-pumping, humbling and educational experience of my life.

Update on allocation and Retention Benefit partial payment

September 19, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I’m sure you’ve been wondering about plans for allocation of the retroactive cost-of-living increase to the Schedule of Medical Benefits that was included in our latest agreement with government – in addition to payment of the partial Retention Benefit.

CMA and AMA working together

September 6, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I think most of you will have heard in recent months about changes at the Canadian Medical Association. The sale of MD Financial Management is one, but the organization is evolving in other ways, too. Since the August 22 annual meeting in Winnipeg, the CMA has communicated about bylaw changes affecting governance in terms of the size, constitution and method of election for the CMA Board of Directors.

Thoughts about CMA General Council

August 17, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As you may be aware, the 2018 Canadian Medical Association General Council and Annual General Meeting is taking place next week in Winnipeg. This promises to be an historic meeting, with key governance changes being voted on at the AGM. I wanted to let you know about some of the important points and considerations that our 31 AMA delegates will be deciding upon as we vote on these governance changes.

Informatics, moving information and Connect Care

August 8, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In 2018, the Board of Directors approved a new AMA Policy Statement on Health Informatics. You can view it, or listen to a podcast interview about it. The policy’s purpose is to help guide the AMA through the increasingly complex provincial health information system. Today I wanted to update you on how the policy is helping us address two important questions: How will we maintain and improve the two-way flow of patient data between community-based physician practices and the rest of the health care system? What is Alberta Health Services’ Connect Care and how will your practice be affected?

About the allocation

July 31, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I’m writing today with news about payment of the retroactive April 1, 2017, Schedule of Medical Benefits cost-of-living increase, as well as the partial 2017 Retention Benefit payment. This was provided for by the recently ratified 2018-20 Amending Agreement. These are amounts owed to physicians in exchange for reducing the rate of growth in the Physician Services Budget for 2016-18. Since ratification, we have been working with Alberta Health to determine how and when the allocation will occur.

Overhead Surveys Completed – Preliminary Results

June 18, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Keeping up with overhead costs is a major part of maintaining viable practices today. Members are always concerned with the ever-present pressures of overhead costs and that’s why overhead is one of the Board’s priorities for allocation – and why it’s important to measure it accurately. We need a measurement tool that reflects modern practice today, but can also be updated with emerging information over time.

Voting results – Members ratify agreement

May 30, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I am writing to let you know the results of the ratification vote by Alberta physicians on the 2018-20 agreement package with Alberta Health. I am pleased to advise that the package was ratified, receiving a “Yes” vote from just over 89% of responding physicians. (Voter turnout was 29%, as it was in 2016.)

A ratification vote will open today

May 4, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As I announced in my April 23 President’s Letter, a tentative agreement has been reached regarding a financial reopener on our main agreement with government (the AMA Agreement) and the status on the Strategic Agreement related to physician bargaining with Alberta Health Services. It is now up to physicians to accept or reject the proposals through a ratification vote.

Negotiations concluded: tentative agreement package reached

April 23, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I am writing today with good news that the Alberta Medical Association and Alberta Health have successfully concluded negotiations and a tentative agreement has been reached.

Overhead Survey – We need your input!

April 18, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: We are nearing the end of the time for you to contribute to an extremely important study of physician overhead costs in Alberta. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to do so, please do so now!

Highlights from Spring 2018 Representative Forum

March 29, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: My last President’s Letter updated membership on the Spring 2018 Representative Forum discussion on the Income Equity Initiative as part of the overall Physician Compensation Strategy. I would now like to touch on some of the other topics and themes that were discussed at the meeting March 16-17 in Edmonton.

Representative Forum update

March 18, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Yesterday we wrapped up another successful Representative Forum meeting. You may have seen some media reports about the RF’s session on the AMA’s Income Equity Initiative. While many important topics were discussed, I thought I would take this opportunity to update you on that topic in particular.

Representative Forum meets this week

March 13, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The Representative Forum meets in Edmonton this week: Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17. I thought I would give you an overview of the agenda and highlight some of what we will be discussing.

Negotiations Update

March 8, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I am writing with an update on the status of negotiations with Alberta Health toward a new master agreement. As you know, discussions have been ongoing since December 2017.

Help us shape AMA informatics policy

January 29, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Information is one of the big themes underlying everything the AMA is trying to accomplish for members, patients and the health care system. Whether for appropriate clinical decision-making, provincial or local administration or engaging patients, data is the lifeblood of an integrated system. Today, though, there are barriers to getting the information we need for care. We lack the data for taking the system where we want to lead. Patients are still waiting for access to their own information.

Facts and figures about physician payments

January 23, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: There has been lots of discussion about where Alberta doctors sit compared with others in the country. I thought you might like to see some facts and figures to shed some light on how things work in Alberta.

Programs have differences; we value all of them

January 19, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Evolving toward a fully integrated, high performing health care system takes more than just intentions. Physician practices need to remain viable as an important part of system infrastructure. As clinicians and medical leaders, we also need support to learn different ways to work, to work with different levels of care more effectively, to take full advantage of the value of team-based care, informatics and more.

AMA priorities and themes for negotiations

January 17, 2018

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As you learned from my December 28 Negotiations Update, in spite of significant early challenges, the AMA and Alberta Health continue to negotiate a new master agreement. As always, we will respect the confidentiality of what happens at the table, but I would like to give you a flavor of what the AMA is bringing forward on your behalf.

Launching Peer Review: Information and tools for physicians

December 15, 2017

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As part of our drive for physician stewardship, the Representative Forum has supported development of a peer review mechanism. This was negotiated as part of the 2016 Amending Agreement.

Negotiations begin

December 7, 2017

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Negotiations commence this week with Alberta Health to negotiate a new master agreement. With the 2016 Amending Agreement, we saw an opportunity to help government with the province’s fiscal challenges. At the same time, we wanted to increase our influence within the system in order to improve quality of care. Physicians stepped up as leaders and we have been successful.

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.