Board meeting update and upcoming member engagement

August 4, 2021

Dr. Paul Boucher, President

Dear Members: 
 
Board update
 
The Board of Directors met July 22-23. I intended to provide you with an update on what was discussed at the end of last week. This was overtaken by the issue of Alberta’s changed public health restrictions, so I am providing the update today with the latest developments. 

 

  • Fostering our relationship with government
  • Engagement with our members to inform next steps

The Board meeting agenda contained a range of topics, but members will not be surprised that government discussions were the major focus of the work we did. We were joined by the following physician leaders with whom the Board has been consulting: 

  • AMA Compensation Committee Co-chairs 
  • AMHSP Council Co-chairs 
  • cARP Working Group Co-chairs 
  • Council of Zonal Leaders
  • Joint Task Force Co-chairs 
  • Physician Compensation Advisory Committee representatives 
  • Specialty Care Alliance Co-chairs
  • Section of Family Medicine President 
  • Section of Rural Medicine President 
  • Strategy Group members

In recent months, our discussions with government have been directed toward restoring a positive working relationship, including working toward an agreement. As reported in my July 2 President's Letter, there was an early priority on addressing some outstanding issues facing the profession and the system: certainly a step in the right direction. The other aspect, however, was assessing what would have to change in a new agreement package to make it acceptable for physicians. This scoping exercise was for both sides to consider what would be possible and if there is potential to reach a satisfactory conclusion. The outcome of these conversations is that government has asked us to bring forward a proposal that identifies the specific changes we would like to see in the Tentative Agreement Package, including in the areas of relationship, budget management and dispute resolution. There is an openness to discuss solutions that provide more clarity and certainty, reflecting input received from the membership so far through numerous channels.
 
The input from members about the Tentative Agreement Package (TAP) indicated that members didn’t see their needs and interests adequately reflected in that proposal. We heard that while you understand the fiscal challenges the province is facing, you need to see provisions that deliver stability in rates and predictability for practices; good processes for working together, including ways to resolve disputes fairly; moving forward on income equity; and allowing physicians to have meaningful input into health policy. We have also heard from members before and after the TAP about broader questions around the balance between budget concerns, health system issues and physician support. The Board’s task will be to consider possible approaches to budget management and the responsibilities that physicians should bear in a constrained environment. There are also issues of representation in this complex environment where dispute resolution mechanisms will be important.
 
We have prepared a discussion paper on these matters and will share that with you soon. There will be several ways to provide comments and feedback.
 
Additionally, it will be critical for the AMA to continue to monitor your needs and how they are changing. Some of this is achieved by working with members every day in areas such as: stipend discussions; contractual arrangements with AHS and others; changes to provincial laboratory medicine services; AHS diagnostic imaging; and more.
 
You will also see surveys, including some from sections, to assess things going on in your environment. We are planning other, more in-depth research to get a deeper understanding of what is happening in your practices and business arrangements.
 
I know that physicians receive many requests from all sorts of quarters for your input. I know also that you are extremely busy, so we ask your indulgence in engaging with you in these ways. Thanks in advance to those of you able to participate.
 
You can also always reach me in the usual 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

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