AMA-CMA relationship and conjoint dues

October 1, 2018

Dr. Alison M. Clarke, AMA President

Dear Members:

The Representative Forum had another successful meeting on September 21 and 22 in Calgary. Today, I am writing to update you on an important RF session regarding the relationship between the AMA and the Canadian Medical Association; including the question of continuing conjoint membership dues with the CMA.

Underlying considerations

In discussing the AMA’s evolving relationship with CMA, the RF considered information from CMA President, Dr. Gigi Osler, as well as our Alberta CMA Board members, Dr. Linda Slocombe and Dr. Carl Nohr. The session was led by Dr. Neil Cooper, who also outlined the AMA Board’s effort to bring greater clarity to the issue.

The discussion was broad ranging and covered many points of view. Some of the key points raised included the following:

  • Concerns and issues related to the sale of MD Financial Management and the communication of the sale to members. The process and some of the limits of communication were discussed in detail.
  • The challenges and the opportunities arising from the proceeds of the MD Financial Management sale. What will the funds be used for and how will this be determined? How best can the physician voice be heard in this?
  • Increasing federal presence in health care and the need for a strong national voice on issues such as taxation reform, MAID, cannabis decriminalization, national pharmacare, etc.
  • CMA efforts to strengthen its direct linkage to physician members, something that the AMA supports and sees an opportunity to work with.
  • Efforts undertaken by the AMA and CMA to redefine and strengthen our relationship, including using some form of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to formalize this and communicate it to our members. The MOU could deal with issues such as the historic and joint commitment to Alberta’s physicians; aligning activities to engage and seek input from physicians; the collection and use of any dues revenue within Alberta; and priority projects such as physician health and advocacy on a provincial and national scale. Such an approach may serve as a template for the country.
  • The overall reduction of CMA dues from $495 to $195.

The next year

In general, the conclusion at RF was that Alberta physicians require a strong provincial and national voice. What form this should take is still uncertain and more information is required.

The consensus was to take the time needed to assess all the developments cited above. Importantly, this includes engaging directly with members regarding how they would like to see the AMA work with the CMA and how to handle conjoint membership dues. The AMA Board and RF will also be following developments with respect to the CMA’s engagement on member priorities and the AMA-CMA MOU.
Specifically, the RF motion was:

That the AMA Board bring back a report and recommendations on the AMA-CMA relationship to the Spring 2019 RF.”

The timeframe is tight, but this means that conjoint dues will remain in place for this membership year and will be revisited in six months.

I appreciate that many members have expressed serious concerns and wish to immediately move away from conjoint status. While this was fully discussed and this option remains in place, I fully support the measured approach that was developed at RF. There is a long, historic relationship to consider and there are several opportunities that are still unfolding. Most importantly, I want to support getting information out and then hearing from all Alberta physicians as to what is in our best overall interest.

Rest assured that the AMA will continue to work closely and collaboratively with the CMA to represent the interests of our members and to deliver member value.

We have been awaiting this RF discussion to commence our membership renewal process. Within the next two weeks, members will receive 2018-19 membership renewal notices. Please note that CMA dues have been reduced from $495 to $195.

Please let me know what you think. You can reach me in the following three ways:

Warm regards,

Alison M. Clarke, MD, CCFP, FCFP


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