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.

8 comments

Commenting on this page is closed.

  • #1

    Trevor Day

    Physician

    1:25 PM on February 26, 2021

    I am happy to hear that the Ministry of Health and Alberta Medical Association have reached a tentative agreement. While I know specifics are forthcoming, I am curious if there are provisions to address Bill 21, which had given the Minister power to terminate the Master Agreement.

  • #2

    Cindy Lee

    Physician

    4:27 PM on February 26, 2021

    While it's great that a tentative agreement has been reached, I will not trust the government until the section of Bill 21 is repealed where they can rip up our contract again whenever they want.

  • #3

    Bradley Martin

    Physician

    9:07 PM on February 26, 2021

    I will not vote for any agreement that isn’t binding. If Bill 21 isn’t reversed, I will not vote for any agreement, especially if it means dropping the lawsuit, as Shandro can just unilaterally tear it up.

    We need legal protection against the whims of the government. As it currently stands, it is arbitration or bust for me.

    98% of us don’t think he can do the job. He needs to go if we are to take any agreement seriously, especially one he can literally tear up 5 minutes after it goes into effect.

  • #4

    Michael Chatenay

    Physician

    10:10 AM on February 27, 2021

    A "agreement" that only only one side has to honour isn't worth the paper it's written on. How long before this contract is torn up by this government.

  • #5

    James Currie

    Physician

    11:26 AM on February 27, 2021

    I will almost certainly vote against the deal.
    We have been without a deal for about a year now and the sky hasn't fallen. We have before the courts, a legitimate lawsuit against the government, and we will win. It will take time and money, but we will win, and Kenney/Shandro will learn that a contract cannot simply be torn up. This is far more important than having a second rate deal.

  • #6

    Dr Gerard Haines

    Physician

    12:41 PM on February 27, 2021

    Well, nice response but I feel the tone of your letter here to us AMA members is couched in fear of the Government. My analogy is like we (AMA members) have been the partner in a battered spouse relationship being the victim here. Its like the Government is holding the arm up, and we are waiting for the other shoe to drop.
    We should not go into negotiations in this tentative fearful way; members will revolt and vote any agreement down. I feel we now have a better position in negotiations due to the Government's position previously in canceling our agreement so abruptly. So we can stand up for ourselves now with most public at our side, based on comments from patients as they saw the heavy handed moves used previously.
    I would also say that our voices have to be heard, and negotiations should be open with the media and public informed all the way. There is nothing to hide from our point of view.
    Only other comment here is again like a dysfunctional battered relationship; the Government is not trustworthy anymore. It will be hard to vote to ratify anything at this point.
    Thank you for allowing me to express my views, G Haines MD

  • #7

    AMA Staff

    Member of the public

    10:27 AM on March 02, 2021

    Issues arising from Bill 21 are addressed in the Tentative Agreement Package. The RF will have a chance to review the materials later this week and, on Saturday, advise the Board if the package warrants being sent to the membership for review. The Board will then make a decision whether or not to proceed with the vote. If we go forward, you will receive all the necessary information with multiple opportunities to ask questions and discuss issues.

  • #8

    Ron Hoy

    Member of the public

    1:42 PM on March 07, 2021

    I support the agreement & we are desperate for a cancer doctor in Peace River, AB. we cancer patients have been without ours since last June 2020. Some doctor please, please come help us!

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