A tentative agreement with government has been reached

February 26, 2021

Dr. Paul Boucher, AMA President

Dear Members:
 
As you know, discussions with government have been ongoing continuously since last fall. I am pleased to tell you that we have reached a tentative agreement package arising from the negotiations.
 
What happens next?
 
The Board of Directors believes that what has been negotiated has merit and warrants initiation of our usual ratification process. Our governance process for ratification begins with a consultation with Representative Forum delegates, who have been providing direction all along.

We are just in final stages of gathering all the documents to share with members. We will be organizing a special RF in the coming week to review the tentative agreement package and seek the RF’s advice to the Board. On the basis of that advice, the Board will determine if a ratification vote by the membership will proceed. If this is the case, you will receive these materials soon after.

We have negotiated what we believe is a reasonable approach to the situation we are in, and the best agreement for our members given our fiscal environment. It addresses government’s financial mandate, but also delivers fairness for physicians and value for our patients. In giving this news to you today, we recognize this has been a difficult year, and everyone has felt the impact. This is an opportunity to restart a relationship with government and for physicians to provide leadership in the system. That journey will have to be taken one step at a time and the Board believes this agreement can set us on that road.
 
As always, though, it’s you – the members – who will decide. It is your voice that matters. Your governing body will conduct an initial assessment on your behalf, and if a vote proceeds we will provide you with everything you need to make an informed decision. 
 
You will be hearing from me once the special RF has concluded. Assuming we are moving forward with ratification, materials will be sent to you and we will be organizing information sessions to answer your questions. The vote would occur over a three-week period. 
 
Thank you for Standing With Us
 
This is a long-awaited day and I hope you share a sense of relief and pride for what has been achieved. The ceaseless advocacy of physicians, residents, medical students and the public has contributed significantly to reaching this milestone. On behalf of the Board, thank you to everyone who engaged in advocacy on behalf of the profession and your association on social media, in meetings with MLAs and in your clinics. Thank you to the leaders of the Joint Task Force who gave their time, week after week, to help guide members in their advocacy. Thank you to every member who renewed their membership to Stand With Us; as of this week, we have more members than we did this time last year. Thank you for keeping on, through uncertainty, stress and, of course, the pandemic to look after your patients and to be there for them when they need you. Please continue to look after yourselves.
 
This tentative agreement package is complex, reflecting the system we inhabit and the issues that have to be addressed. From the RF, to the individual member in the weeks ahead, everyone will need some time to review the material and consider their vote in a fully informed manner with the complete context.  
 
To enable this consultation to occur, government and the AMA are standing down our communications about negotiations. While we will still comment on other health care topics, when it comes to negotiations, neither side will be giving media interviews. Both sides will also take down materials used in the past year to debate issues or advocate about negotiations. We will not be commenting on Twitter or Facebook on any details of the tentative agreement package or the contributing issues. 
 
We encourage all members to do the same. For those who are active on social media and enjoy the online discussion format, we will provide a member-only discussion space on the AMA website if the voting package goes out for ratification. There will be multiple ways to reach us to exchange questions and discuss issues. We will use member-only space for this, where full context is available around individual comments and facts. Everyone deserves to make an informed decision. Let’s help each other do that.
 
Thank you. You will hear from me soon.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments. Please reach me in one of the following ways:

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

Sincerely,

Paul E. Boucher, MD, FRCPC
President, Alberta Medical Association

P.S. So many things are happening that a major announcement yesterday is relegated to a post script. Yesterday the Minister confirmed that community family physicians and their staff will be eligible for COVID vaccination in Phase 2. We appreciate the clarity this provides as we prepare to sign up community physicians to administer the vaccine.

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