First update of 2020: Many things underway

January 13, 2020

Dr. Christine Molnar, AMA President

I will provide you with updates on discussions with government and negotiations frequently in the weeks ahead.

On December 19, I met with Health Minister Tyler Shandro to provide our response to the consultation proposals. It was a candid conversation. The minister stated his commitment to a health system that is fiscally sustainable and delivers quality accessible care. He has challenged the AMA to work with him, including the consideration of alternatives to the Alberta Health proposals put forward during the consultation process. Subsequently, he stated publicly that the proposals will not be implemented on February 1 and that no final decisions have been made while discussions continue with AMA.

The negotiations table is the appropriate place for this process. Last week I attended a full-day meeting of the Negotiating Committee to prepare for the next session with government. The Board of Directors held a teleconference on January 9 to review the current situation and provide direction as part of our ongoing oversight. Negotiation meetings with Alberta Health resume this week.

Some information has been exchanged with Alberta Health Services on the topics of physician payments related to the AHS physician stipend proposal in government’s consultation items. We have also engaged with AHS regarding the Physician On-Call Program. The AMA will support and defend our members consistent with our legislated rights and our agreements. We look forward to further discussions with AHS so that we can address these items that affect so many members.

The Physician Advocacy Group met last week. Their mandate is to advise the Board on effective methods to engage members and the public on the current issues affecting health care in Alberta. This dynamic and insightful group has made some excellent recommendations. We will soon be implementing new strategies to improve our ability to keep you informed, enable your engagement toward our goals and to communicate with you. We will also enable new strategies to engage the public and hear their voice.

Your support for comprehensive primary care could not be more clear and I want to say “Thank You.” More than 600 members (and counting) have copied me on letters to MLAs. Still others have reported back on face-to-face meetings they have arranged. The Section of Family Medicine is collecting a large volume of patient letters and signatures. It is important for MLAs to understand the implications of government actions and the impact on physicians and our patients. I believe your efforts have been noticed and are making a difference. We need to remain active and vigilant as we go forward.

Upcoming events 

  • The Ernst & Young report on AHS will soon be released and will include recommendations for change.
  • We are awaiting notice from government about developing framework and regulations on physician resource planning (Bill 21 PRAC ID). The AMA will be working with Professional Association of Resident Physicians of Alberta, medical students' associations and all other stakeholders to address this challenge.
  • Government will be announcing a provincial laboratory strategy. We will update you when we know more. This will have a significant impact on our laboratory medicine colleagues. The laboratory services that they provide are fundamental to the diagnosis and treatment of our patients. The AMA is committed to working with our lab colleagues through this transition.
  • Government is planning to roll out their promised initiatives to reduce surgical wait times soon.

Finally, I again want to recognize the work of sections and more than 1,500 individual physicians who contributed directly to development of the AMA response to the consultation proposals. The expertise and insight you provided is invaluable.

2020 is shaping up to be a challenging year. I have confidence in the guidance provided by the AMA Board of Directors and all our physician leaders. Our unwavering passion for patient care is our greatest strength.

I am confident that as a united voice, we will continue to be a powerful force in shaping the future of health care in Alberta.

Please watch your email for updates and additional information. I am eager to engage directly with members in person. I am seeking meetings with sections, zone medical staff associations and other physician groups. If you have an upcoming meeting in which you would like me to participate in some way, please let me know.

As always, I would be happy to hear from you if you have thoughts to share with me. Please let me know what you think in the following ways:

  • Communicate with me privately and directly by email if you would like a reply:
  • Comment publicly below 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).

NOTE: While I am reading all correspondence, due to the amount of incoming email, my responses to you may be delayed. I sincerely appreciate your understanding during this busy time.

In your service,

Christine P. Molnar, MD, FRCPC
President, Alberta Medical Association

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