A joint announcement with government and continued member engagement

July 2, 2021

Dr. Paul Boucher, AMA President

Dear Members:

In this letter:

  • An announcement arising from priority discussions between government and the AMA
  • Member engagement 
  • Advocacy

An announcement

As I have previously written, we have been in discussions with government since the tentative agreement was voted down by members in March. We have been discussing several high priority issues in the health care system in an effort to demonstrate that we can work together to resolve them. These issues are important to physicians, our relationship with government and our patients and they need addressing. Developing a collaborative working relationship with each other is one of the key steps required before resuming negotiations. I am pleased to inform you that we are making progress together. 

There will be a joint announcement today about progress on those priority issues. You can visit the Alberta Government website today to read the release, but the highlights are:

  • Sign-off of physician support grant programs for 2021-22 including: the Physician and Family Support Program; Compassionate Assistance Program; Parental Leave Program; Physician Locum Programs; and Accelerating Change Transformation Team.
  • A revised 2021-22 Continuing Medical Education program.
  • The restriction on new billing numbers will not begin on April 1, 2022.
  • Establishing a working group to review available virtual care services and appropriate compensation criteria.
  • An Information Sharing Agreement to allow AMA access to non-identifying information relating to physician compensation and service utilization.
  • Discussions over the coming weeks will look at the status of the health system post COVID-19, including mental health and surgical recovery.

This is important progress and I thank the Minister and his team for working with us to reach this stage. More hard work lies ahead, but this is a pivotal step in rebuilding our relationship and moving toward reaching a provincial agreement.

Member engagement continues

As the parties explore the potential of getting back to negotiations toward a new agreement, the Board and I have committed to continuing to engage with membership in order to better understand and represent you. This engagement has been ongoing since the vote on the tentative agreement and has already included a number of activities:

  • The What We Heard: Member Feedback on the Tentative Agreement Package report (member login required).
  • Preparing for and attending 14 townhall meetings to assist and represent 47 physician groups who were invited by Alberta Health to discuss terms and conditions for movement to clinical Alternative Relationship Plans.
  • Continued representation and support for other physician groups, such as radiology and laboratory physicians.

New engagement activities to watch for are:

  • A survey to explore your situation and how you and your practice are faring at this time.
  • A Where We Are Going report that lays out what the profession is facing and some of the challenges and opportunities that need to be addressed.
  • More work with sections and others to further our understanding of what physicians are facing.

Our goal is to better understand member needs in relation to sustaining your practice as we come out of the pandemic and face the resulting care deficit. We want to more fully understand the challenges you face and what matters most to you and your patients so that we can better represent you.

Advocacy

For your information, here are links to some recent advocacy activities:

  • A joint #VaccinesWork initiative between physicians and pharmacists to promote COVID vaccine acceptance.
  • A letter to the editor of Canadian Family Physician magazine regarding a recent opinion piece that reflected on family medicine practice.

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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