COVID vigilance, vaccination survey and update on government discussions

December 7, 2020

Dr. Paul Boucher, AMA President

Dear Members:

COVID-19

I wrote to you on November 26 about the explosive rates of COVID-19 in Alberta and the new measures that have been taken to slow the virus down. It is too early to know how effective these will be. Promising news about vaccine availability and provincial logistical planning for roll out may provide a little daylight, but it does not change our current situation and the pressure on our health care system.

In a letter sent last week, I advised the Minister that the AMA continues to support collaborative activities (such as the Community Supports Pandemic Working Group or successor venues) in ongoing response to the pandemic. I committed to continue to reinforce the public health measures that have been laid out with members and the public.

We are now in a phase of vigilance and are waiting to see what actually develops and what new measures will be required if the situation does not improve substantively. We will see how the coming days unfold, but our runway for preventive response is shortening.

On December 16, we will offer our third COVID Talks for Docs webinar in our bi-weekly series on the care and management of COVID-19 patients in the community. This series is hosted by physicians from Alberta Health Services, the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta and the Alberta Medical Association with support from Alberta College of Family Physicians. Visit the Webinars & Online Learning page to register or to access recordings of past sessions.

I hope that all of you continue to take care as the pandemic deepens. Always remember that if you need help to deal with mental health issues including anxiety, depression or burnout, you can reach out to the AMA’s Physician and Family Support Program24/7, 365 days a year.

Vaccine survey

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is surveying health care providers currently practicing in Canada to learn more about the training and resources that will be most useful to help you discuss COVID-19 vaccines with patients, and to receive the vaccine yourself when they become available.

The online survey will be available to complete until December 13: COVID-19 vaccine resource and training needs survey for health care providers.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact the Immunization Promotion and Partnerships Unit at phac.vaccination.aspc@canada.ca.

Discussions with government

It has been some weeks since I updated you on discussions with government. The parties continue to meet to try to find a way forward and have exchanged a number of proposals and documents.

We appear to have resolved several issues, but there are also several significant points that remain outstanding. These have been the focus of the most recent conversations. For the AMA, these questions relate to establishing a stable environment in which physicians can practice, while ensuring they receive appropriate representation and advocacy in an evolving health care system, e.g., new contracting models related to Bill 30.

I commit to keeping you informed as closely as possible.

Membership renewal news 

Physicians, resident physicians and medical students are keeping membership renewal numbers climbing, knowing thatevery membership makes a difference. As of December 2, we are at 97% of where we stood one year ago for this same date. If you haven’t renewed, then I invite you to Stand With Us and renew now.

Be sure to renew your Canadian Medical Association membership too. The CMA has supported AMA advocacy every step of the way this past year and they are the national voice for the profession to government, the public and stakeholders. Let’s not forget, in 2022 an Alberta physician will become CMA president. You can learn more about the candidates and the election process on the CMA website. 

Take care and be safe. Your comments on these or any topic are welcome always. You can reach me 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 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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