My thoughts on 2017-18

September 21, 2017

Dr. Neil D.J. Cooper, AMA President


I wanted to introduce myself as your new president. I am a Calgary pediatrician who has been active with the Alberta Medical Association for almost 20 years in various roles – mostly related to fees and information technology issues. I am honored to have been elected to serve as your president for the 2017-18 year.

Like you, I have been struggling to care for my patients in our health care system, which is really just a series of people and programs working extremely hard, but without any real coordination. For as long as I can remember, physicians have been asking to have input into the system. The good news is that recently, with our Amending Agreement, things have turned a corner and we are now seen as necessary leaders in system transformation. I am hopeful that as we move ahead over this next year, we will see real progress on many of the system-wide initiatives.

Representative Forum update

We just completed a very successful Representative Forum meeting and I wanted to give you the highlights and a sense of the year ahead.

First of all, it was awesome to see the RF in action. It is always amazing to watch so many smart and articulate people with different viewpoints come together and get to the heart of what is important so that the AMA has clear direction as we continue to plan for the next steps. This was especially obvious at this meeting as we watched specialists and general practitioners work together to solve some potentially contentious issues. As always, putting the patient’s needs at the top of the priority list served us well.

New Vision-Mission-Values statement

Over the last year, with the input from the RF, the Board developed our new Vision, Mission and Values statement. This document will go a long way to help guide us as we use it to mold our positions on all of our activities. It has a focus of physician leadership, professionalism and stewardship and how a high-performing health care system will work toward patient-centered quality care.

Session with the Minister of Health

Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman joined the RF to address delegates and partake in a question and answer session. The Minister has attended every meeting of the RF since taking on the health portfolio. Her openness to questions and the value she clearly places on the relationship between her government and the profession were greatly appreciated.

Negotiations 2018

We had a presentation from our Negotiating Committee who will begin discussions with Alberta Health later this fall. Our position builds on a foundation from the Amending Agreement and further works to solidify physicians as leaders within the system and stewards of resources. We want to further the work with government and Alberta Health Services toward a high-performing health system in Alberta.

Income Equity Initiative Plan (member login required)

At the Spring 2017 RF, the AMA board was directed to produce an Income Equity Initiative plan in time for this Fall RF. The AMA Compensation Committee and health economics staff worked tirelessly over the summer to come up with this plan. They had many consultations with section representatives during this time. The plan was presented at the RF and several resolutions arose guiding us in the next steps. The leaders of the Section of General Practice, Section of Rural Medicine and the newly formed Specialist Care Alliance worked together to bring an important set of guiding motions that allowed sections to have more time to discuss the plan with their members, while continuing to pursue the Income Equity Initiative data-collection phase. Watching this group in action was the highlight of the RF for me as we saw leadership, collegiality and an incredible sense of unity in the room. I was never so proud to be an RF member.

I think of this project as a slow moving train with its tracks being laid in front of it. There will be mountains along the way to go around or tunnel through, but the destination is clear and the resolve to get there is great.

Negotiations and income equity were significant topics at the RF meeting, but there were numerous other sessions that might interest you. Please see the brief overview at the end of this letter after my signature.

In my first RF as “the new guy,” I was excited to be able to meet and talk to so many people. I discovered that it is a very long walk to the washroom when there are so many people with whom you want to communicate. I think future RFs will require a certain degree of dehydration. I continue to look forward to hearing from and meeting many members over the coming months.

I would really like to explore other ways to communicate with members to give you more choices around how you receive information from the AMA. As a beginning, the AMA has developed a new discussion tool for sections that will be rolled out over the next little while.

I look forward to working with and learning from you in the year ahead. Please let me know what you think on any topic. Email: or leave a comment below.

At your service,

Neil D.J. Cooper, MD, FRCPC, Dip. Sport Med.


September 15-16, 2017

RF Resolutions have been posted to the AMA website and are available here (member login required).

Indigenous Health

The Board has approved a new Indigenous Health Policy Statement. Indigenous advocate Brenda Reynolds and Dr. Cara Bablitz gave a presentation on the policy, which will guide the AMA’s new efforts to promote and support Indigenous health. This direction evolved from a Spring 2016 RF session regarding outcomes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Auditor General report

The Auditor General, Merwan Saher, came to speak with us and highlight important pieces of his Better Healthcare for Albertans report. He spoke about the need for all of the patient’s information to be available in all situations where a patient is interacting with the system (but also when the patient is talking to their family across the kitchen table). He also suggested that patients, who are all taxpaying Albertans, need to become more involved in how their health care dollars are spent.

College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta

We heard from the new CPSA Registrar, Dr. Scott McLeod. He shared his vision for the new Competence Process and Practice Checkup. His vision is of a college that helps physicians to identify where they may be at risk and helps them to adapt their practice to reduce these risks.

Integration of Care, the Patient’s Medical Home

Dr. Brad Bahler, Senior Medical Director, Primary Health Care Integration Network, gave a presentation to discuss why we need to promote development of the medical home in new and practical ways. Primary care physicians have had support on managing change and processes to that end. It’s now time to make that support available for specialty care and strengthen the bridge between those physicians and primary care. Physician leadership and stewardship are the things that will result in closer integration and improved continuity of care for our patients.

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