Response to government announcement

February 20, 2020

President Christine Molnar

Dear Members:
 
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:

Government has chosen to terminate a viable contract before the end of term. I believe this is the first time this has happened in Canada. It is a first for Alberta and a sad day for health care. This fundamentally goes against a belief that Albertans hold in common: the idea that one should stand by their contracts and live up to their word. Honoring agreements with health care workers is sacrosanct with Albertans. In a recent survey of over 1,300 Alberta patients, 85% said it is important for the government to honor health care contracts.

The AMA made several offers and significant moves throughout the negotiating process. We offered substantial short term savings, worth over 3%  – which equates to over $150 million in savings a year. We appreciate that there was still a way to go, but we had informed the minister that we were going to put another offer forward tomorrow. At the same time, we indicated that we would be suggesting a movement to arbitration.

This is important as there has to be a way for physicians and government to resolve disputes in a reasonable way. It is in the best interest of the public for that mechanism to be available. In the current negotiations, for example, there is a significant difference of opinion related to physician payments in Alberta versus that in other provinces. We believe one of the reasons why government has chosen to go the way they have today is that they know they are not on solid ground.

We are concerned with many aspects of this move from government, including the heavy burden being placed on family physicians and their patients. It became clear today that government is not interested in collaboration. Moving forward will be difficult and I am genuinely concerned for patients. This attack on physicians – particularly the disproportionate attack on family physicians – is disturbing. 

The Board is meeting this evening and I will have much more to say on this issue in the coming days. 

Please let me know what you think in the following ways:

  • Communicate with me privately and directly by email if you would like a reply: president@albertadoctors.org 
  • Comment publicly below on this President’s Letter (please be aware that comments are public, i.e., not members-only, even if you are logged in as a member).

In your service, 

Christine P. Molnar, MD, FRCPC 
President, Alberta Medical Association

29 comments

Commenting on this page is closed.

  • #1

    Kyle Judd

    Other health care professional

    5:18 PM on February 20, 2020

    I could think of fewer ways to cripple any future “good-faith” negotiations than to breach a contract during negotiations.

  • #2

    sameena Ashraf Bajwa

    Physician

    5:51 PM on February 20, 2020

    What a sad day for health care and our patients. Disproportionately adverse effect and attacks on Family physicians by a health minister is not acceptable. We love Canadian values and Twitter bullying similar to following foot prints of Mr. Trump is not acceptable to us. Tunnel vision does not save money to the system nor does it help the patients.
    In civilised societies we honour the contracts.
    More and more patients will end in hospital ER and system won’t save money.
    All the steps government has taken are in the direction of privatisation.
    Dark day in the medical history of Alberta !!!!
    AMA and CPSA have to take form stand.

  • #3

    Dr Edel Dromey

    Physician

    5:53 PM on February 20, 2020

    This government is attempting to strong arm physicians to accept changes implemented by them without due process. There is no choice. They are bypassing the contractual process. They are not honouring contractual negotiations that the AMA and Government have always used. They are unilaterally ending the Master agreement they have had with physicians and imposing their own version of what they want to see happen. They have ignored the AMA's willingness to go to arbitration and have not even waited for the AMA's response to recent discussions, which was due tomorrow, Feb 21. They are attacking the basic healthcare of all Albertans but trying to hide that from the public by choosing to attack physicians. They are particularly attacking the thousands of Family Physicians who work long and hard to bring health care to millions of Albertans. Their attack on physicians amounts to a bullying campaign and the misrepresentation of physicians compensation is underhanded. The public needs to know that these changes that the government wants to enact will see a reduction in the care that we all receive as Albertans, reduce the number of doctors who can work in the province and overburden both the Family Physicians and the already stressed Emergency departments in our province. This bullying needs to be stopped. The government needs to stop attacking physicians and all Albertans in the process.

  • #4

    Dr. Lola Jean Stewart

    Other health care professional

    5:56 PM on February 20, 2020

    Tearing up physicians’ contract insults all Albertans.
    Alberta’s physicians are paid more than other provinces because Alberta’s salaries are higher on average than other provinces.
    25 minutes before added billing per patient will cut physicians’ earnings severely for those serving many seniors and complex patients.
    Rural benefits put physicians into underserved communities. Cuts will leave rural Albertans without healthcare.
    $4.7 billion of Alberta‘s money was given to corporations. Now physicians have to pay, and Albertans will suffer.

  • #5

    Fiona Dunne

    Physician

    6:10 PM on February 20, 2020

    Interesting that the Alberta.ca website says that altering the MD fee structure would take several years “and require consultation with the Alberta Medical Association at all stages”.
    Apparently this was false advertising.

    No honest attempt to work with the AMA through a mediator (in spite of AMA suggesting multiple areas for cost savings) and now they have unilaterally declared that they will end their agreement with MD’s.
    This is in bad faith.
    The Kenney government is making Short-sighted and uneducated decisions. They aren’t considering MD concerns, nor the impact on patients. That is obvious from the fact that they are attacking Family MD’s upfront. Strong family practices and public health systems are the bedrock of our whole medical system.
    It is NOT possible to care well for a complex patient in 15 minutes. Some of my patients have 10 or more medical issues and medications.
    They will cause decades of harm if they continue to treat MD’s with this degree of disrespect and disregard. Nobody wants to work in a dictatorship.

  • #6

    Dr Greg Schmaltz

    Physician

    6:37 PM on February 20, 2020

    The end of fair treatment of physicians in Alberta started with a mortal blow by the Canada Health Act in the 80's and died with the cutbacks by government in the mid 90's. Now the Alberta Government is defiling the corpse. I escaped practicing in Canada twenty years ago. It was the best move I ever made. Sadly, the only leverage Alberta physicians have is to close their offices and walk out of the hospital system. My condolences to end of independent physicians treating patients in Alberta as you begin your new career as salaried civil servants.

  • #7

    Sara Walker

    Member of the public

    6:38 PM on February 20, 2020

    I continue to be amazed on a daily basis by the absolutely disgusting attitude and actions of Jason Kenney and his UCP government. I cannot say that I am surprised. They are hell bent on driving away our healthcare professionals while simultaneously privatizing our healthcare system.

  • #8

    Marina

    Other health care professional

    6:40 PM on February 20, 2020

    What about the 43 levels of AHS management of which no one add patient care value? Costing billions? Also stop Connect Care implementation, this a great program, but will not help us with frontline patient care. We in the rurals need our physicians who really work hard to cover all the service delivery points.

  • #9

    Dr Kathleen Game

    Physician

    6:47 PM on February 20, 2020

    The outrage that the government caused today with the extreme disrespect,slander and maliciousness to primary care/ family medicine must be fought. They have ruined the public health care system. I know they meant that. Bill21 was always about heavy handed dictatorship. They want a world class education and health care system to fail. Privatization and greed is their ideology.
    Their unreasonable expectation of 40% reduction of income and still being able to afford to keep a practice running seems beyond stupid. It is calculated. Primary care is the bedrock of health care. Everything that snake of a health minister has spouted has been lies and misinformation to placate a gullible public.
    Rural family docs working in clinic or hospital based care and especially female physicians have been especially targeted.
    30 % of family physicians polled will be closing practices and leaving to somewhere where their skills and training are valued. I will be one of many. I will be making less than 1/2 the amount per hour than my electrician charges. Better care takes more time. Mental Health and complex medical problems take time. I can’t afford to be a good family doc anymore. I won’t be a bad one. Being treated and paid fairly should be a given. Rewarding time and sacrifice and holistic care should not be punished. I guess this is too much to expect from an ideological cesspool like the UCP.
    IF the Alberta population especially rural does not wish to see their access to quality health care disappear it is time to support it. Otherwise you will pay for it. Financial as well as health.

  • #10

    Johan Viljoen

    Physician

    6:52 PM on February 20, 2020

    Throughout my whole career of 42 years we have all put the best interest of our patients first. Now we get a kick in the teeth again by a cognitively challenged government.
    It is time to take action. Patients may suffer, but if they dont back their physicians they deserve what they are going to get. Thank the good Lord I am retired and don’t have to eat this crap from our politicians.

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