Advocating for all members

October 30, 2023

Dr. Paul Parks, AMA President

Dear Members,

On October 16, I launched the province-wide Local Doctors, Local Issues tour to re-connect with members and raise awareness about changes needed in the health care system. With the AMA’s new executive director, we have now held member town halls in Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer. We will be in Grande Prairie on Wednesday, November 1, followed by Fort McMurray, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. Thank you to all the members who have been able to attend in person and through telehealth sites. You’ll find information on upcoming events, including a virtual town hall, on the AMA website.

In addition to the member town halls, our travels include site visits to emergency departments, wards, PCN offices and local clinics. I am meeting with mayors, MLAs, cabinet ministers, AHS department leads and colleagues in the allied health profession.

There has been a lot of local media interest in the tour, and I’ve given many interviews. Journalists have wanted to know what doctors think about the state of the health care system and where solutions may lie. I expect to hold a virtual news conference later this week to summarize what I have been hearing and what we believe it means. You can get a flavour of the media coverage in this one-minute video prepared by AMA Public Affairs. Public advocacy and education is a critical step toward system improvement, and this is only the beginning of efforts and work on behalf of the profession.

Members and stakeholders have identified two obvious themes in our conversations:

  1. The crisis in family medicine. Too many Albertans do not have access to comprehensive care from family physicians and rural generalists. The health care system has simply not kept pace in terms of the framework required to support longitudinal care. Our compensation model no longer incentivizes this complex, highly specialized care and practices are simply no longer financially viable.
  2. Growing instability in acute, hospital and community-based specialist care. As an emergency physician, I am keenly aware of ongoing signs of deterioration in the health care system. I have been actively raising these issues in the media and with the Minister of Health. Capacity and workforce challenges are culminating in severe access block in every hospital. The situation is as bad as it has ever been, and we are advocating for physician-developed solutions as they come forward from sections and individual members.

The common denominator in all situations is the tremendous shortage of physicians and allied health care professionals that is creating a vicious cycle of increasing burnout that is weakening the health care system a little bit more, every day.

For now, I choose to remain optimistic in the face of such challenging circumstances. I believe Minister LaGrange understands that we have real problems to address. Collaboration between government and the profession is the key. Alberta doctors are struggling to maintain patient access and the high quality of care we were trained to provide and are proud to deliver. We keep fighting, but so many are exhausted and on the verge of walking away. We need measurable and productive change within months, not years, and my efforts are focused on the promise of a provincial budget in February that will represent meaningful steps for reform.

More to come on these topics.

You can reach me anytime at You can also comment on this letter on the AMA website.


Paul Parks
President, Alberta Medical Association


Commenting on this page is closed.

  • #1

    Tina tippe

    Member of the public

    1:54 PM on October 30, 2023

    Thank you for visiting sites and getting input from front line workers in regards to this physician shortage and health care crisis. However the rural sites are suffering exponentially compared to the larger hospitals. Visiting them will help give a better perspective on the struggles they are having with physician recruitment and lack of family physicians. There are many towns and residents who have no family physician and are having to travel many miles just for physician access. This is putting a huge strain and expense on rural emergency departments where staff and EMS services are sparse.

  • #2

    A Chu


    5:17 PM on October 30, 2023

    With regard to health system collapse, I feel that at this point we should no longer talk about Covid as a significant contributor. There is basically nothing about the effects of covid that continues to impact our healthcare system; it is all government policy at this point in time. The AMA should strongly consider removing all mention of covid in its current assessment of the situation when talking to the public; it is in the best interest of all Albertans to understand that the solutions are known, manageable, and affordable. They do not involve redirecting public funds to private enterprises for the benefit of corporations and their stakeholders.

Alberta Medical Association Mission: Advocate for and support Alberta physicians. Strengthen their leadership in the provision of sustainable quality care.