Reaching out to the Premier

July 30, 2020

Dr. Christine Molnar, AMA President

Dear Members:

Today I have written to Premier Jason Kenney asking for his involvement in our current impasse with the Minister of Health. This action follows our Confidence Vote Referendum and the overwhelming vote of non-confidence that I announced yesterday.

It has been eight months now since negotiations began. Since then, the AMA has been 100% consistent: at every table with the Minister or the civil service; in every advertisement we have placed; in every media interview; and every meeting. The message is always the same. Our goal is to achieve a negotiated agreement between physicians and the Government of Alberta. We are willing to meet government’s fiscal mandate and have tabled proposals accordingly.

I have heard the Minister comment that he does not need an agreement with physicians. This shows a tremendous lack of understanding and, I think, a fear of loss of authority. Ironically, that approach is what has driven 8,740 physicians, resident physicians and medical students to a non-confidence vote in his leadership. He may think he does not need an agreement, but physicians and Albertans know that he does. (By the way, I haven’t updated you for a while, but over 17,500 Albertans and counting have written personal emails to MLAs and the Minister through our Patients First® campaign, asking for a return to negotiations.)

We need an agreement:

  • To lay out the roles, responsibilities, accountabilities and authorities for physicians to work with government to achieve the $5.4 billion budget that they have demanded.
  • Because AMA agreements provide for powerful innovation that is desperately needed in our health care system. Primary care networks, Alberta’s leadership in establishing the Patient’s Medical Home, our use of electronic medical records and needs-based physician resource planning are all improvements that have directly resulted from AMA agreements. 
  • Because government wants to reduce wait times, improve mental health and seniors care, as well as establish a Patient’s Medical Home for all Albertans. Our agreement can enable collaboration on all of this and provide methods to resolve disputes.
  • Because Alberta physicians are small business owners, whose practices happen to be critical to the infrastructure of the health care system. Physicians in towns, communities, hospitals and clinics everywhere in our province need the stability of knowing how to run their businesses, plan for the future and care for their patients to the best of their ability. Constant uncertainty and no assurances about what to expect next week, month or year, will wreak havoc on physician practices. We know some physicians are thinking of leaving the province if an agreement is not achieved. If they do, who will come to replace them?

I truly hope the Premier will hear our concerns and agree to take an interest in these matters. We all want quality care that provides value for the system and taxpayers. Eight months – even without a pandemic – in the midst of such chaos is difficult for physicians and their patients. His leadership is needed.

In your service,

Christine P. Molnar, MD, FRCPC
President, Alberta Medical Association

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