Advocacy for drug poisoning crisis; various voting reminders

September 19, 2022

Dr. Vesta Michelle Warren, AMA President

Dear Members,

Members tell the AMA that one of the most important things we do is help the public better understand the health care system from the front lines. As promised in my letter last week, advocacy will continue as members consider the potential agreement package and beyond the vote, regardless of the outcome. This advocacy work helps focus attention on critical health issues so we can work together to ensure Albertans receive the care they need, when and where they need it.

Today, I am sharing the latest in the Joint Physician Advocacy Committee’s Care Deficit Assessment Series. Issue 6 Drug Poisoning was one of our most challenging issue papers to date and took considerable time to develop as we worked to capture the broad range of perspectives from our various physician contributors. Drug poisoning is a complex topic and we saw a dramatic increase in drug poisoning deaths during the pandemic, driven by issues such as a more toxic drug supply, difficulties in accessing care and social isolation. Our contributors told us about the stigma that people who use drugs experience and the importance of exploring decriminalization and researching possible impacts of safe supply strategies.

Although there are differing opinions even within the medical profession on which policies and procedures are most effective, or how to help people navigate the system to receive the care they need, we are all united by the desire to do everything possible to protect people who use drugs and prevent further loss of life. We know Alberta’s care deficit will require all of us to work together to find a way forward. Lives depend on it. 

Still time to join tonight’s Q&A forum on potential ratification package

Voting is open for the potential ratification package until September 28 at 4 p.m. Two town halls for members have been held and a full recording of the presentation portion can be viewed on the ratification page (member login required). We’ve also been adding to the Questions and Answers materials there and have posted a short video from AMA legal counsel addressing some legal questions that have been frequently raised by members.

Based on member feedback, the third AMA Town Hall (AMA Town Hall #3 - Potential Ratification Package Q and A Session) will now be held tonight as a Zoom webinar. This change will allow for the Q and A feature in Zoom to be enabled, and for members to upvote questions that they are most interested in.

I will provide brief opening remarks this evening, but this will not be an exhaustive presentation of the agreement details. We will primarily use this meeting as an opportunity to conduct a moderated Q and A session with members. As such, members are encouraged to come prepared by reviewing the materials available on the AMA website (member login required). 

I know that some of you were already registered for today’s town hall meeting, but because the format was changed, you will need to re-register yourself as your link to the original meeting will not work. I apologize for the inconvenience of having to register twice, but the Board felt that this change in approach would allow for more time to be dedicated to answering the questions that members are most concerned about.

I will write again soon. You can reach me any time in 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 (please be aware that comments are public, i.e., not members-only, even if you are logged in as a member). 

Sincerely,
Vesta Michelle Warren, MD, CCFP, FCFP
President, Alberta Medical Association

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