Physician On-Call What's Happening; What's Next

October 9, 2019

Dr. Christine Molnar

Dear Members:

Many of you will have received an Alberta Health Services memo last week: Physician On-Call Program Changes Effective October 1, 2019, that highlighted changes in the number of on-call categories from five to three, and a reduction of stipends paid for those services. A retroactive payment from April 1, 2017 was also announced, providing the 1.05% increase negotiated by the AMA in the Amending Agreement that was never applied to the POCP.

The POC programs are Physician Assistance Programs under our AMA Agreement, but are operated and administered by AHS under a grant agreement from Alberta Health. The AMA is not a signatory to the grant agreement.

Recently, AHS brought the 2019-20 POC budget to the Physician Compensation Committee for confirmation, which PCC provided. AHS has been over-spending on its budget and as a result, the POCP reduction is in the range of $10 million.

This decision highlights the need for appropriate physician input into the design of programs, as well as decision-making processes around program features, fair rates of pay and dispute resolution. This POC event is a strong reminder of the importance of physician engagement.

The AMA has asked AHS to work with us on these broader issues and to look at POC programs and rates. AHS has committed to a program review. We hope to clarify our involvement in the coming weeks.

The AMA also believes that the budgetary amounts set by government should be consistent with rates as negotiated within the terms of the AMA Agreement. We will bring this issue forward in our upcoming negotiations.

The AMA will be dealing with a number of complex issues over the coming months. Your input is vital as we develop strategies to confront the challenges we face.

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).

In your service,

Christine P. Molnar, MD, FRCPC Nuclear Medicine
FRCPC Diagnostic Radiology
President, Alberta Medical Association

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