Members voted No on Tentative Agreement Package

March 30, 2021

Dr. Paul Boucher, AMA President

Dear Members:

The membership has voted No to the Tentative Agreement Package between the Alberta Medical Association and the provincial government. 53% of members who voted, voted no and 47% voted yes. The overall vote turnout was 59% – which is considerably higher than for recent agreements. Thank you, members, for engaging in this important vote. Results were to be released March 31, but due to some early media coverage, we are releasing them this evening.

I know this was a difficult decision for many. Members debated the merits and possibilities of the TAP at length and with passion. It was encouraging to observe that while there was disagreement about the best choice, there was always consensus about the things that unite us. Everyone recognizes the significant challenges we will face in the next few years, such as the fragile economy, changes arising from new health legislation and a potential third wave of COVID-19 as the care deficit caused by the pandemic continues to grow.

The questions now are: What comes next? How do we deal with these issues without an agreement? My answer has two parts.

Our first priority will be to engage with the membership. We heard many themes over the last three weeks, but we need to hear more about the challenges members saw with the TAP and the barriers to voting yes. We will be engaging the Representative Forum, other physician leaders, as well as grassroots members for this task.

The second priority is to engage with government. The challenges facing the health care system remain and we need to get to work on concrete strategies to evolve our system toward stability and pursue sustainability in the only way it can be achieved: through quality care for our patients. This would be an easier task with an agreement, but regardless, we need to re-establish Alberta as a good place to practice, a place where physicians feel valued, can deliver high quality care to their patients and receive fair and equitable compensation in return.

As for the problems that need attention, these will only be addressed properly by working together. Eventually, we will need an agreement; a health care system without an agreement between physicians and government becomes chaotic.

I have reached out to the Minister and we will meet soon to begin priority discussions. There are many things we could address, but to begin with, we need to focus on a practical few. Some of these include:

  • Physician supply, ensuring Albertans have access to the physicians they need.
  • The sustainability of community practice, which includes the future of virtual care. This means both short-term support and long-term strategy toward ensuring virtual care is integrated vs being a source of fragmentation in the system
  • Opportunities to improve value for patients in new contracting arrangements that provide equal and equitable access for patients, fair treatment for physicians and physician autonomy.

I look forward to continuing to engage with you. Thank you for staying informed, making your choice and being here to help move forward.

You can contact me directly at president@albertadoctors.org.

Sincerely,

Paul E. Boucher, MD, FRCPC
President, Alberta Medical Association

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.