President's Letter

Dr. Vesta Michelle Warren, 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 post a public comment.

You may also contact the AMA President by email at president@albertadoctors.org.

For older issues of the President's Letter, visit the President's Letter archive.

President's LettersRSS

A call for stronger measures to combat COVID-19

October 7, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: At the Fall Representative Forum, we received clear direction from RF delegates that the AMA needed to strongly – and publicly – advocate for a stronger response to the COVID-19 crisis Alberta is facing. In response to the most urgent motion passed at RF, we issued a media release on September 27 calling on government to institute a "fire-breaker," to aggressively control COVID-19 cases.

Forging ahead: Inaugural thoughts from the new AMA president

October 1, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In this letter: thanks to outgoing president, Dr. Paul Boucher; strong AMA stance on COVID-19; and discussions with government.

Outgoing thoughts on a complex year

September 29, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: This President’s Letter is my last as AMA president and marks the official end of a term that was as unpredictable as it was eventful.

Alberta must act now: AMA calls for COVID-19 "fire-breaker" measures

September 27, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As you are aware, the 2021 Fall Representative Forum was held this past weekend and, unsurprisingly, COVID-19 and the current crisis we are facing in Alberta was a topic of major discussion. Delegates passed several related motions (I will update members on the details of these later), but I wanted to share with you the most urgent motion on which we have already taken action.

Harm reduction; we can't afford to wait

September 22, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In the midst of the chaos of the fourth wave of COVID-19, we must not forget the vulnerable and disadvantaged. There are many individuals in need, but I refer today to those trapped in the opioid crisis.

Update on Negotiations

September 15, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As reported in my Presidents Letters over the summer, government requested that the Alberta Medical Association submit a proposal for possible changes that would make the rejected Tentative Agreement Package (TAP) acceptable to physicians.

Wave Four: More measures needed and other issues

September 14, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: We are hearing more every day about the implications of the fourth wave of the pandemic and I wanted to update you.

Special RF information session; COVID-19

September 8, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In this letter: a special Representative Forum this week; looking out for each other in the fourth wave.

News: Discussions with government; vaccination policy

August 24, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I am writing to let you know about two decisions reached at a special meeting of the Board of Directors held on August 19.

Care Deficit: Broad thinking will be required

August 20, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I have previously shared with you some research from our albertapatients.ca online community regarding the impact that the COVID pandemic has had on their health and well being.

Paper on government discussions and a member survey

August 11, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In this letter: Informed by your feedback, a paper for your review about the Board’s approach to government discussions; and We launch a survey to look further into how members are faring.

Board meeting update and upcoming member engagement

August 4, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The Board of Directors met July 22-23. I intended to provide you with an update on what was discussed at the end of last week. This was overtaken by the issue of Alberta’s changed public health restrictions, so I am providing the update today.

Significant concerns: Changes to COVID-19 measures

July 30, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: On July 28, Alberta Health announced significant changes in the public health measures for COVID-19. I have written to the Minister regarding my concerns, and I want to share these points with you.

Masking in community clinics

July 16, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I have heard from a number of members who are concerned with potential implications for their clinics arising from the lifting of mandatory continuous masking. The public health order was maintained for Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health and long-term care facilities, but not for other clinical settings.

Patient's access to lab results; the remaining 5% and your practice

July 9, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In this letter: What’s changing with patient access to sensitive lab results; what you may need to consider; how to learn more and be prepared with a July 21 webinar.

A joint announcement with government and continued member engagement

July 2, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In this letter: an announcement arising from priority discussions between government and the AMA.

Supporting physicians impacted by changes to AHS-paid stipends

June 21, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In this letter: Update on representation surrounding the end of stipends in Alberta Health Services; Stipend Action Committee; New clinical Alternative Relationship Plan information source for members.

COVID-19 and our patients - a checkup

June 11, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As many of you are aware, as part of our advocacy and engagement with the public, we host an online patient community: albertapatients.ca.

What We Heard: Member Feedback on the Tentative Agreement Package

June 2, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I committed to reporting back to you about what we heard from the membership during the ratification period for the Tentative Agreement Package. Today, I am pleased to share the conclusions with you.

Residential Schools

June 1, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: News that the remains of 215 Indigenous children were discovered in a mass grave at a former residential school in Kamloops has drawn attention to a dreadful legacy of the residential school system. This is not an isolated incident: graves have been found at other former school sites, including in Alberta. The search for these is still incomplete.

Rural Health Week

May 28, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As we come to the end of the 2021 Rural Health Week, I wanted to take the opportunity to add my voice to the celebration of rural health care in this province.

Updates on key areas

May 26, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: This is to provide you with an update on several activities being undertaken by the Alberta Medical Association.

Further information on mask exemption order

May 21, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As you are aware, on May 13 government released a new public health order stipulating that medical exemptions for mask use will be allowed for a list of “verified health conditions,” and that an exemption letter will be required from a physician, nurse practitioner or psychologist.

Mask exemptions, Building AMA strength from within

May 14, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Yesterday, government released a new public health order stipulating that medical exemptions for mask use will be allowed for a list of “verified health conditions.”

New public health restrictions, AHS stipends

May 7, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The new public health restrictions put in place this week have been welcomed by the broader medical community.

Recognizing National Physicians' Day

April 30, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Canadians have fervently expressed their thanks to all health professionals during this pandemic year. As physicians, we have been quick to recognize all team members who are working alongside of us.

Discussion with Minister, federal COVID support

April 19, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The April meeting of the Board of Directors took place last week. This was our first opportunity to gather since the vote and we spent two days discussing the challenges facing our members, patients and system, and how to best address them.

Vaccine in community clinics, a shout out to Laboratory Medicine

April 14, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I’ve written a few times about the work to involve community-based family physicians in delivery of COVID-19 vaccine.

Reporting on feedback, fixing virtual care

April 13, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I’ve appreciated all the emails and conversations since my last President’s Letter. Many of you have shared your thoughts and hopes for the future.

More eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine announced

April 12, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As I am sure many of you have heard, Alberta Health announced that Phase 2C of the COVID-19 vaccine roll out begins today.

The No Vote + two days

April 1, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: To avoid days of silence at an important time, I wanted to write again before what will be a short break for many.

Members voted No on Tentative Agreement Package

March 30, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The membership has voted No to the Tentative Agreement Package between the Alberta Medical Association and the provincial government. 53% of members who voted, voted no and 47% voted yes. The overall vote turnout was 59% – which is considerably higher than for recent agreements. Thank you, members, for engaging in this important vote. Results were to be released March 31, but due to some early media coverage, we are releasing them this evening.

Ratification vote will proceed: It's up to you now

March 6, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As I announced in my February 26 President’s Letter, a Tentative Agreement Package has been reached with the provincial government.

Update on tentative agreement status

March 3, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I have received comments and questions from many members regarding a tentative agreement with government.

A tentative agreement with government has been reached

February 26, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As you know, discussions with government have been ongoing continuously since the Fall. I am pleased to tell you that we have reached a tentative agreement package arising from the negotiations.

PFSP value, staying well and the importance of advocacy

February 19, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Much like our colleagues on the frontlines everywhere, feelings of distress are common amongst physicians.

Voting now open for 2022-23 CMA President-Elect from Alberta

February 12, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In 2022 an Alberta physician will become president of the Canadian Medical Association.

Whistleblowers, seniors care: the AMA weighs in

February 10, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In a year that in many ways has been so unusual, we sometimes forget that “the usual” continues, too.

Leveraging all we've got in the COVID fight

February 7, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Efficiently vaccinating Albertans against COVID-19 will be a monumental task that will only be accomplished with careful planning and intersectoral collaboration.

Vaccine: A forced pause, a chance for clarity

January 28, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The development of COVID-19 vaccines has brought together some of the brightest minds around the globe and made history by getting vaccines approved and to market within a year.

AHS and March 31: Access for patients, fairness for physicians

January 25, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As I'm sure most of you are aware, AHS has indicated that stipends for contracted services will end.

More lab results coming online for patients

January 13, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As of February 5, more lab results will be accessible to Albertans through the My Health Records (MHR) portal.

COVID – We must stay the course

January 7, 2021

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Last week we welcomed in 2021. While the new year often sparks feelings of hope, I met the new year with a sigh of relief that 2020 was over. There is, of course, the optimism provided by the vaccine, but it is tempered by the prospect of a long year ahead that will involve many challenges related to the ongoing pandemic. The end of the year was difficult for many of us, isolated from family, trying to carry on traditions in new ways and, for many, dealing with the financial burden the pandemic has brought to bear.

Z-codes, AMA updates you need

December 23, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As this letter was completed, we were advised that Alberta Health has decided to postpone the implementation of new rates for Z codes, initially scheduled for January 1.

Government review cARP & academic medicine plus AMA info session on stipends

December 22, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As discussions continue with government towards a negotiated agreement, new payment models are emerging and are being offered to physicians.

Evidence of the COVID-19 care deficit

December 17, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As we settle into a new phase of restrictions to check the spread COVID-19, I wanted to write to you about the impact of the pandemic on patient care and the health care system.

My letter to Albertans and a new tool to better understand members

December 11, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Some of you may have seen the letter I wrote to Albertans urging them to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

COVID vigilance, vaccination survey and update on government discussions

December 7, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I wrote to you on November 26 about the explosive rates of COVID-19 in Alberta and the new measures that have been taken to slow the virus down.

COVID-19: Hard choices

November 26, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Since I wrote to you earlier this week, additional public health measures have been announced to slow the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a lot of debate on the probable effectiveness of these plans and what needs to happen next. There is no question that tight lock downs are effective in reducing spread; we experienced it in the spring and results from other jurisdictions speak for themselves.

Worth noting: Physician health, member engagement

November 24, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: We have all been watching the seemingly unabated rise in COVID-19 cases with increasing concern.

Nominate an Alberta physician for CMA President-Elect

November 19, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Every year, the Canadian Medical Association holds nominations and elections processes for the position of CMA president-elect and this year the president-elect will be chosen from Alberta.

Representation and Support in Alternative Payment Arrangements

November 13, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: We have heard from many physicians since our October 2 President’s Letter about government’s decision to terminate grant funding for the AMA’s Alternative Relationship Plan Physician Support Services (ARP PSS) program.

Sunshine List due this week: How to prepare

November 3, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: About 1,300 physicians registered for an AMA webinar last Friday entitled: Living with the Sunshine List.

AMA response to CPSA consultation on job action standard

October 29, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As Dr. Christine Molnar wrote to you in September, the AMA participated in the consultation initiated by the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta regarding three standards of practice: Job Action; Closing or Leaving a Medical Practice; and Relocating a Medical Practice. The College has amended these in response to a June letter from the Minister in which he called on the CPSA to take steps that would “require physicians to mitigate the impact of withdrawal of services.”

Honors for those who serve

October 22, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Before October winds down, I wanted to write about our inaugural virtual annual general meeting of October 5.

Understanding physician supply numbers

October 9, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: You may have seen media coverage in the last 24 hours relating to the latest quarterly physician supply statistics from the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta that show a net increase in the third quarter. The CPSA noted that net increases this year have been smaller than over the last five years and recognized that we will not know the actual numbers until the end of the year

Carrying the torch: Inaugural thoughts from the new AMA president

October 7, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: On Monday of this week, during our Association’s 115th Annual General Meeting, I was honoured to officially assume my position as AMA president for the 2020-21 year.

Final thoughts on a tumultuous year

October 6, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: This President’s Letter marks the end of my term as AMA president.

Uncertainty and Instability: Join the AGM to learn our plans

October 2, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: We stand for and will continue to seek fairness and stability for our profession. We will survive! Never forget your power, and our united power, even in this continued climate of uncertainty and instability. This was a key theme of the September 25 and 26 virtual Fall Representative Forum.

CPSA consultation on job action standard is open

September 18, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Many of you will already have noticed that the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta has opened a consultation on their proposed standards for: job action; closing or leaving a medical practice; and relocating a medical practice. These proposals come in response to a June letter from the Minister, calling on the CPSA to take steps “to require physicians to mitigate the impact of withdrawal of services.”

Exemption for Sunshine List

September 17, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: We know that many members have been anxious to learn more about the exemption process for the Physician Payment Disclosure (Sunshine List). Physician payments are due to be disclosed by November 9, 2020. We have just received notice that the application process for exemption is now open.

Update on correspondence with government

September 16, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Recently, members may have observed a few media reports regarding the status of negotiations between the AMA and provincial government. These media stories refer to what I wrote to you about in my August 21 President’s Letter: a request from the Minister to respond to a formal process of exchanging draft agreements. Our intention was to respond in writing, and we have done so.

Release of Sunshine List regulations

September 11, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: On September 9, government released regulations on physician payment disclosure. The regulations are brief and lay out a 60-day disclosure date, meaning the information can be released as of Sunday, November 8, or anytime before. Transparency is important, as is accountability. Greater transparency for the public through the Sunshine List, in our view (August 10 President’s Letter), does not require the release of individual names. However, we understand from discussions with government that there is a decision to proceed with the release of our names with our gross billing data.

You are invited!

September 4, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: You are invited to the 115th Annual General Meeting of the AMA to be held on Monday, October 5 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. In this milestone year, with COVID-19 safety top of mind, we depart from tradition. This AGM will be held virtually and is therefore accessible to so many more members.

Thank you, CMA

August 27, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: This is a big shout out and THANK YOU to the Canadian Medical Association from Alberta Physicians.

Correspondence with government

August 21, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: This President’s Letter is in follow up to my President’s Letters of July 29 and July 30, which reported the results of our referendum on physician confidence in the Minister and my outreach to the Premier.

Mourning a loss together

August 12, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: It has been a dark week since the incomprehensible news of the fatal attack on our colleague, Dr. Walter Reynolds in Red Deer on Monday. The Alberta Medical Association has been in contact with local physician leaders to ensure that all members of our physician community can access assistance through the Physician and Family Support Program as we try to come to terms with such a horrific event. Let me begin with this message to every member: If you need support, asking for help is a sign of strength.

Physician payments: Telling the public what’s involved

August 10, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The Minister of Health has stated that he will proceed to release a “Sunshine List” for physician payments. A law to allow this was passed in 2015, but never acted upon.

Possible changes to Health Professions Act: Self-regulation concerns

August 6, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: We have received a consultation document from government regarding proposed changes to the Health Professions Act. In our assessment, some of the options presented in the discussion paper suggest a wholly new, government-led approach to licensing and complaints registration. I am sending you our initial review as some of the possible amendments are a serious threat to self-regulation of physicians if implemented.

Reaching out to the Premier

July 30, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Today I have written to Premier Jason Kenney asking for his involvement in our current impasse with the Minister of Health. This action follows our Confidence Vote Referendum and the overwhelming vote of non-confidence that I announced yesterday.

An unprecedented and overwhelming vote

July 29, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The results of our referendum vote are in. There were 8,934 votes from physicians, residents and medical students across Alberta, which represents a voter turn-out of 67%. As for the results: 98% indicated they do NOT have confidence in the Minister. Over the past week, the confidence referendum was conducted with the same rigor as a contract ratification vote.

Bill 30

July 27, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Last week, Bill 30, The Health Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 completed second reading in the legislature. There is no doubt that this government-sponsored bill will be passed before the session ends for summer break, likely this week.

News on programs and other matters

July 24, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: On Wednesday, July 22, we received an update on government’s decision-making regarding the future of the programs under the AMA grant agreement. As you are aware, since the spring and end of negotiations, the grant agreement has been unsigned, leaving all involved in limbo. Given the importance of these programs to physicians and the health care system, we have ceaselessly pushed for clarity on their future and underscored the value of retaining them within the AMA. We have now been advised of the following...

Members: Do you have confidence in the Minister?

July 21, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Today, for the first time, I am offering my President’s Letter in both video and written formats. Our relationship with the provincial government has reached an all-time low and in an emergency meeting of the Representative Forum last weekend, by an overwhelming majority, RF took the step of requesting a Confidence Vote Referendum on the Minister of Health. Over the next week, we are asking Alberta physicians to let their voices be heard on this vital matter. This is your choice and your voice. We want every single doctor across this province to have an opportunity to vote, as this grassroots direction will guide our next steps and send a strong message to government.

We are under attack

July 20, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: On Saturday, a special virtual meeting of the Representative Forum was held to discuss our current situation with government. I want to thank delegates who made themselves available and provided wise counsel for the Board at this very difficult time.

Representative Forum virtual meeting tomorrow

July 17, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: To seek guidance from leaders of the profession, there will be a special virtual Representative Forum meeting tomorrow morning. The Board will share plans to keep the organization strong and focused as we work through the issues we are facing. We will also seek direction on a number of strategic options for the short and long term.

Minister letter to CPSA

July 16, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Many of you will be aware of the Minister’s letter to the College of Physicians and Surgeons regarding what steps physicians may take in adjusting their practices and what he characterizes as job action. I fully support and respect the work that the College does in its mandate to protect the public, but there are great concerns with the Minister’s approach.

Taking our story public

July 15, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Those who read the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal this morning will have seen an Alberta Medical Association full page ad, releasing our most recent proposal to address government’s mandate. This proposal has been sitting with Government since Canada Day with no movement. On your behalf, I took it public.

Your Practice, Your Plans: Your Results

July 9, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Thank you to everyone who participated in our recent member survey “Your Practice, Your Plans: Tell Us How You’re Doing.” We had a very good response given the short timeline.

No consultation with AMA on Bill 30 development

July 8, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I have received a number of emails regarding Bill 30 and my President’s Letter from yesterday. Thank you for that feedback. It is unacceptable that the Alberta Medical Association was not consulted on the development of these significant reforms to our health care system. These impending legislative changes will have consequences for the profession and how we practice, as well as our freedom to advocate for our patient’s needs. The patient-physician relationship is at risk.

The Road; Bill 30

July 7, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Yesterday, Bill 30, the Health Statutes Amendment Act, was introduced in the legislature. Many of you have already contacted the Alberta Medical Association with concerns. The AMA was not consulted about Bill 30. Much like Bill 21, this bill introduces elements of health care reform with no transparency or consultation with important stakeholders, including the AMA. We will be evaluating the implications.

There is no room for systemic racism

July 3, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The world-wide outcry against systemic racism has resounded broadly. Canada and Alberta have been no exceptions. Within our profession, there has been commentary from the Canadian Medical Association and by the provincial associations.

Healthy Work Environments. Is Alberta on track?

June 30, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As physicians, we take the privilege of practicing medicine and our responsibility to our patients seriously. We also understand our ethical responsibility to speak up if situations arise that endanger quality care or access for our patients. We are not only stewards of health care, but function as part of an early warning system to protect the public. This is our social contract. It exists with our patients, both individually and collectively.

PPE in the community: Just the facts

June 20, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: My May 27 President's Letter addressed issues arising from government’s announcement that community physicians would no longer be provided with personal protective equipment. Since then this has been discussed extensively at the Pandemic Community Supports Working Group. Matters continue to develop, while communication to physicians about PPE has been coming from several directions. I thought it would be helpful to summarize what we know.

Good news regarding WCB and support for member wellness

June 18, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Voting closed Tuesday, June 16 for the tentative Alberta Medical Association-Workers’ Compensation Board agreement. Voting opened May 28. The proposed four-year agreement carried the endorsement of the Board of Directors and I am pleased to report that the vote was overwhelmingly positive, with 98% of voting physicians in favor of the agreement.

WCB agreement: Exercise your right!

June 12, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: June 16 update - ratification vote now closed. | The vote for the tentative WCB-AMA Agreement closes on Tuesday, June 16 at 4 p.m. and it is important that you vote now.

What the AMA offered: Real savings, real solutions

June 4, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Government claims that during negotiations, the Alberta Medical Association did not offer concrete proposals to deal with the province’s fiscal challenges. I thought members would be interested to learn more about what the AMA put forward.

Tentative AMA-WCB agreement reached, ratification vote now open

May 28, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: June 16 update - ratification vote now closed. | One of the core functions of the Alberta Medical Association is the negotiation of compensation agreements on behalf of Alberta physicians. While the spotlight these days has been on our ongoing struggle to reach a master agreement with government, at any given time we are negotiating a number of different contractual arrangements for subsets of the membership. One of the most significant of these is our negotiations with the Workers' Compensation Board. This is an agreement for physician services provided to employees covered by the WCB. Negotiations for a new agreement between AMA and WCB commenced on June 14, 2019 and the parties reached an agreement, in principle, on March 27, 2020. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on April 6, 2020.

Community access to PPE: physician concerns, principles

May 27, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The AMA sits on the Pandemic Community Supports Working Group, which is chaired by Alberta Health and also including Alberta Health Services and the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta. This working group has been a successful space for advancing solutions to pandemic issues, from establishing virtual care codes, to streamlining and clarifying communication issues and more. Access to personal protective equipment has been a constant agenda item.

Facts worth repeating, myths worth busting

May 22, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In the ongoing impasse with the Alberta Medical Association, government continues to promote its own messaging, some of it misleading. The MacKinnon report alleges that Alberta doctors are paid far more than provincial counterparts (“as much as $100,000 a year” or “35%”). Other examples include claims that the AMA failed to bring forward any proposals during negotiations, and government MLAs have said that our negotiation strategy failed to include the interests of rural physicians.

We Asked, You Answered

May 19, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Thank you for the fantastic response to our member’s survey April 14-24! Almost 4,500 members (32%) responded, giving a clear picture of what is important to you and providing a foundation for our advocacy and planning. Your thoughtful responses are greatly appreciated. There were over 550 pages of verbatim comments. Clearly, there is much that the membership wants to share. We will continue to seek out ways to actively hear from you.

Exercise your right of representation

May 15, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In the absence of an agreement, through our members the AMA continues to assert our representative role to effectively support you with respect to the Schedule of Medical Benefits, Alberta Health Services payments, clinical alternative relationship plans (ARPs) and all matters relating to physician compensation. Thank you for so actively supporting our profession to speak with one voice!

We are the AMA

May 8, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: On May 5, I released a letter to the Minister. It was jointly signed by physician leaders as a declaration of unity within the profession and support for the Alberta Medical Association as the representative of physicians.

In this together

May 5, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Thank you for your rapid response to the campaign AMA recently launched enabling you to encourage your MLA and Health Minister Tyler Shandro to put Patients First® and get back to the bargaining table. As of today, over 1,000 physicians have signed up and the numbers keep growing. If you haven’t had a look yet, please visit our campaign page. This phase of the campaign enables physician voices to be heard. Our next phase invites Albertans to participate.

Tell the UCP to get back to the bargaining table

May 1, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: On February 20, 2020, the Minister of Health walked away from negotiations and terminated our contract. In doing so he violated the charter rights of all Alberta physicians by removing their access to independent third-party arbitration. As a result, the Alberta Medical Association launched a charter challenge against the provincial government.

Your representation matters

April 30, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The Alberta Medical Association plans to protect your rights and to ensure your voice is heard. The following is information pertinent to that goal. The role of the AMA as the representative of Alberta physicians is a crucial piece of a well-functioning health care system that puts Patients First®. For a long time, representation rights came through our agreements with government. In 2018, legislation was enacted to enshrine the basic right to representation for physicians, though how this was effectively realized – such as access to dispute resolution and processes for negotiation – was specified within the AMA Agreement.

MLR: Setting the Record Straight

April 27, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The April 24 President’s Letter, in response to the government’s provincial announcement about rural care, resulted in a strong and positive response about the importance of unity in our profession. Similarly, the voice for unity was eloquently proclaimed by communiques from the Section of Family Medicine, the Section of Rural Medicine and the Rural Sustainability Group.

AMA Response to Provincial Announcement on Support for Rural Health Care

April 24, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In response to an announcement today by the Minister of Health regarding rural care, I have released a written response. Section of Rural Medicine President Dr. Ed Aasman, has also sent a letter to his section members.

Myth Busters

April 21, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Recently government MLAs have been in touch with members to discuss the current situation between doctors and physicians. Dialogue like this is very helpful in creating common understanding of the issues facing physicians and Albertans at this time. Hopefully this will result in progress toward broader engagement with physicians through our representative body (the AMA), leading to a negotiated agreement, which includes independent arbitration.

Embattled

April 17, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The level of disruption in our lives and the “new normal,” doesn’t feel normal at all. We are more familiar than we ever wanted to be with things like PPE, doubling times, burnout rates, the impact of testing and isolation and the emerging data on flattening the curve.

Our charter challenge for due process and fair negotiations

April 9, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: If you told me a year ago that I would serve the Minister of Health with a Statement of Claim for a constitutional challenge, in the midst of the worst public health crisis in a century, I would have been incredulous. Yet, that is what happened this morning.

Top of Mind: Government Relations and Supporting Members and Albertans in COVID-19

April 7, 2020

PRSIDENT'S LETTER: This is a very stressful time as we enter the COVID-19 surge environment. Our normal life and work patterns are disrupted and anxiety-laden. We enter this time without the confidence that we are valued by our government, having endured their inequitable treatment as they now call on us to serve. But we do not serve a government, we serve Albertans. And serve we will as we march into battle to support Albertans, facing the biggest challenge of our lifetime.

Supporting each other through the storm

April 3, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: We find ourselves in the midst of a perfect storm. Physicians are working hard in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are preparing to give the all-out effort required to save lives and will be there when it counts. Albertans can rely on that. This is despite the fact that for months, we’ve notified the Provincial Government that their planned changes in health funding would be damaging and destabilizing to medical practices across the province.

Government rejects call for delayed implementation of framework

March 30, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Today, we received the Minister's response stating that the government intends to proceed with the remaining elements of the framework on March 31. I share your extreme frustration and disappointment with this decision. Adding further disruption and uncertainty to a health care system already under unprecedented pressure from COVID-19 is simply irresponsible and not in the best interests of the health care system and our patients.

Virtual care codes now available

March 23, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Good News today! Following discussions between the Alberta Medical Association and government, I’m very happy to let you know that three new categories of virtual care codes have been established so that family physicians and specialists can provide more telemedicine, such as teleconferencing and video, for an expanded scope of patient needs during the pandemic.

Babylon: setting the record straight

March 21, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In my letter yesterday, I spent too little space on fully explaining the facts and issues around the new Telus Babylon product and the AMA’s concerns. Thank you for sending your concerns through to me. It is a complex problem and I need to address it further. Please be aware that AMA is currently working on a complete virtual care schedule with Alberta Health. It is imperative that this is operational as soon as possible. From my perspective, it is overdue. Let’s start with what we know about Babylon.

Cyber-bullying, government discussion on virtual care and stipends

March 20, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: It has come to my attention that things were said yesterday on social media and outside of it that are deeply troubling. Whether you agree with public officials or not, making personal attacks and threats on them and their families is never acceptable. It’s cyber-bullying, plain and simple; it’s not who we are as physicians, and it must stop. The comments, which I will not dignify by repeating or referencing here, did not originate from an AMA member, though some members may have shared or liked them.

COVID-19 response: We need to stand together

March 18, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In my President’s Letter yesterday I mentioned there are issues with enabling the profession to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. I wanted to share with you what I believe is needed in order to provide patients with the care they need.

Complex modifier change paused; other proposals remain to be implemented

March 17, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: This afternoon, government announced that the proposed changes to physicians’ payments for the Complex (Time) Modifier will not go ahead as planned on April 1, 2020. This is great news. The development came out of discussions last week between the working group of Alberta Medical Association and government. The AMA’s objective continues to be an agreement that will provide fairness for physicians and value for patients. An agreement would provide stability for physicians and support ongoing collaboration in development of a sustainable health care system for Albertans. Please be aware that I have written to the Minister today with two concerns:

Government discussions; COVID-19 and AMA support

March 16, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented public health challenge. During these times of crisis, adhering to the public health direction as a single source of truth is imperative.

Representative Forum cancelled

March 11, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The AMA has been consulting with public health leaders with respect to holding the Representative Forum in person this weekend during the current COVID 19 pandemic. (Just this morning, the World Health Organization officially announced that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.)

Discussions continue with government

March 7, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I am pleased to advise you that discussions continue next week with the Alberta government in an attempt toward a physician agreement that provides value for patients, fairness for physicians and affordability for the system.

Update on AMA’s response to government actions

March 2, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Government has unilaterally terminated our agreement and imposed their dictates on the profession. My February 26 President’s Letter provided a list of actions and activities that the AMA is undertaking in response. Today, I provide an update on a number of those items.I want to acknowledge the sheer amount of information that we have been sending to members. You may be feeling like there is a fire-hose of information coming at you. Government has purposely created an environment where their decisions and actions have so many implications and unintended consequences that no matter where you look - there is chaos.

Provincial budget

February 27, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Government has tabled its second provincial budget. The budget reflects the devastating cuts to physician payments that were announced last week and the hostile action of this ministry in tearing up our Alberta Medical Association contract. The budget gives the impression that “there’s nothing to see here” and physician compensation is portrayed as frozen. Physician compensation is anything but frozen. Once again, government is misleading Albertans about what they are doing.

First do no harm. We Must Act for Patients’ Safety and Access

February 26, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Tomorrow government tables its latest budget in the Legislature. This event will generate a lot of noise in the media and spark further public debate. We do not expect a significant change to our situation. Government has torn up the agreement with the profession and continues with some ill-conceived changes that will be destructive to your practices and to our health care system.

Master agreement terminated

February 21, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The termination of our master agreement is an outrageous action that must be challenged. Government is putting physicians and patients at risk. The AMA Board met last night and will meet again Sunday. We are reaching out to all sections and zone medical staff associations to discuss: legal options; plans for engaging the public; the results of our surveys (“Yes” patients overwhelmingly value their time with their doctor and feel that sometimes more is needed; “No” patients don’t agree with the tearing up of contracts); and next steps needed to get government’s attention.

Response to government announcement

February 20, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I write to you today with great concern for our public health care system in Alberta. Today, the Minister of Health announced that government is ending its master agreement with physicians and enacting the 11 consultation proposals they tabled in November of last year. I wanted to share with you the following statement that we have issued in response:

Negotiations update – mediation unsuccessful

February 15, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: On January 31, I wrote to inform members that our negotiations with government were moving to mediation. Unfortunately, that voluntary mediation process was not successful. There are a few possibilities for next steps. Some of which the parties can do together, others that would be done separately. We are actively exploring our options and will be reaching out to the Health Minister to discuss a way forward that will satisfy the needs of Albertans and treat physicians fairly.

Flawed data equals flawed decision-making

February 14, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: In my President’s Letter last Friday, I shared our negotiations objectives and what we consider to be key requirements for reaching a deal with government: Better information – government is using misleading physician payment figures Clear vision required – a lot of ideas out there, they need to be brought into focus; Provincial physician compensation strategy – essential for true system improvement; A way to deal fairly with physician supply and control practitioner ID numbers. Today I would like to focus on the first requirement: better information.

Negotiations update and AMA's key requirements for an agreement

February 7, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: As reported last week, Alberta Health and the AMA have brought in a mediator to assist with negotiations. There is still a long way to go, but I believe it is positive that both parties are doing what they can to reach an agreement.

Alberta Health Services Review: Concern for health care in Alberta

February 5, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: The 57 recommendations in the Alberta Health Services Performance Review are a compendium of cost-cutting opportunities that purport to improve value in health care by either reducing cost with no impact on quality of care, or by reducing cost and improving quality. It’s an interesting concept. We can understand the exercise of looking at the current state and seeking efficiencies; the report provides many ideas to consider. The picture is still incomplete, though, if we don’t also look at what the health care system needs to deliver for patients today and in the future.

AHS Review: Initial reaction

February 3, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Today government released the long-awaited Ernst & Young summary report of Alberta Health Services Performance Review. We have had a little time to review it, but much more time will be required given the scope and the potential implications.

Negotiations move to mediation

January 31, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Our negotiations with government are moving to a new stage. We have been at the negotiating table since November 2019. While we have seen some advances in recent weeks, both sides have agreed that discussions would benefit from mediation. A mutually agreed upon mediator has been appointed this week with the first mediated discussion occurring today. Meetings are currently scheduled to the end of February.

Update on AHS stipends

January 24, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: Within the set of 11 insured services consultation proposals that Alberta Health provided to the AMA on November 14, proposal 8 plans to eliminate some stipends that are currently paid to physicians practicing in AHS programs.

First update of 2020: Many things underway

January 13, 2020

PRESIDENT'S LETTER: I will provide you with updates on discussions with government and negotiations frequently in the weeks ahead.

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