Provincial budget

February 27, 2020

AMA President - Dr. Christine Molnar

Dear Members:

Government has tabled its second provincial budget. The budget reflects the devastating cuts to physician payments that were announced last week and the hostile action of this ministry in tearing up our Alberta Medical Association contract. The budget gives the impression that “there’s nothing to see here” and physician compensation is portrayed as frozen. Physician compensation is anything but frozen. Once again, government is misleading Albertans about what they are doing. What they call a freeze is a massive cut of 20% or more for many physicians – including those in hospital-based practices and those providing primary care in medical homes (most acutely in rural Alberta). These changes will be tremendously harmful to physician practice, the Alberta health care system and, most importantly, Alberta patients.
For many months government has used misleading data, purporting that Alberta doctors earn far more than our provincial counterparts. How much more depends on the week and the spokesperson. At times they’ve said Alberta physicians are paid 35% more than in other provinces, sometimes 24%, sometimes 15%. Government seems unsure what numbers they should use. 
No matter what number they quote, we fundamentally disagree with their methodology which has resulted in misleading data.  We retained an independent consultant to help us bring objective and accurate information to the negotiating table. Government has refused to budge. 
Stalled negotiations are not uncommon. That’s why dispute resolution, as specified for physicians in the Canada Health Act, is so important. Right now, AMA and the government should be sitting with an arbitrator seeking common understanding from which an agreement could be reached. Instead government tore up the AMA Agreement and refused arbitration. Government claims their position is rock solid, so why are they are unwilling to allow an independent third party to make an assessment and decision?
Government’s data makes no sense. Government’s approach to physicians is inappropriate and counterproductive. Treating us like a problem to be ruthlessly managed is not acceptable. Most importantly, we know that government’s changes to the health care system will cause immense harm to patients. We must stand firm in our resolve to advocate for our patients and our colleagues.
Thank you for your support and confidence bestowed on the Board of Directors. I know from my correspondence that many of you are experiencing heightened stress at this time. I would ask us all to reach out and support each other as best we can.
Emotions are running high right now. That’s easy to spot if you spend time on social media! I want to thank the many physicians who have participated. I have been so impressed that physicians, while deeply concerned and anxious for their future and their patients, still communicate their thoughts to others in a professional and respectful manner. 
We are moving forward and resolution may lie some distance ahead. We have the best chance of success when we stand united.
In your service,
Christine P. Molnar, MD, FRCPC
President, Alberta Medical Association


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Alberta Medical Association Mission: Advocate for and support Alberta physicians. Strengthen their leadership in the provision of sustainable quality care.