News: Discussions with government; vaccination policy

August 24, 2021

Dr. Paul Boucher, AMA President

Dear Members:
 
I am writing to let you know about two decisions reached at a special meeting of the Board of Directors held on August 19. 

  • The AMA will table a proposal with government
  • The AMA calls for mandatory vaccination for health care workers

 Discussions with government

On August 11, I advised members that government has requested a detailed proposal to identify the specific changes we would like to see to make the Tentative Agreement Package (voted down in March) acceptable to members. This includes the areas of relationship, budget management and dispute resolution. A Negotiations Committee has been appointed to provide advice and support.

The Board of Directors reviewed a proposed approach at our meeting. We were joined by physician leaders with whom the Board has been meeting for months: 

  • 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

The Board agreed that the AMA should table a proposal with government according to the approach presented. Everything we are doing is informed by the feedback that members have provided since the TAP and the approach is laid out in the discussion paper Where We’re Going, distributed with the August 11 President’s Letter. If you have not had the opportunity to review the paper, I strongly encourage you to do so. This is part of the Board’s commitment to keeping the membership up to date on the progress and direction of government discussions.
 
The discussions around the proposal will guide us to learn if a return to negotiations is possible. Meetings with government are scheduled for the end of this week.

Vaccination policy

The debate around advancing COVID vaccination continues. The AMA has taken a stance throughout the pandemic for strong public health measures and this includes vaccination. The Board believes that continued leadership is important. Accordingly, we are making a public call for mandatory vaccination of all health care workers.
 
As we look back on the outbreaks experienced in health care settings and face the prospect of a fourth wave with more contagious variants, mandatory vaccination of health care workers is essential. It will help protect our patients, staff and colleagues. We are joined in this approach with groups such as the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Nurses Association, Ontario Medical Association, New Brunswick Medical Society, Doctors Nova Scotia and Doctors Manitoba.
 
I realize that many aspects of the pandemic have been polarizing and that not all our members will agree with this stance. The Board and I felt that we should lend our voice to this important issue as vaccination remains our most effective tool to keep our vulnerable patients safe and our best path out of the pandemic.
 
We will keep the Representative Forum and the membership informed. Please let me know if you have any comments or concerns.
 
Thank you.
 
Your comments are welcome 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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