About restriction changes and negotiations begin

February 10, 2022

Dr. Vesta Michelle Warren, AMA President

Dear Members,

As I was writing this letter, the province’s changes to public health restrictions were announced. I did several media interviews on this announcement. Here is a post that we placed on the AMA’s Twitter feed with a link to an interview I did with Global News.

In other news, negotiations are underway between the AMA and government. These interest-based discussions will go beyond arguing positions with each other. We seek to meet the interests of both parties while trying to solve complex problems in the system.

Both teams have met with a professional facilitator for an initial understanding of issues. We have engaged in training for interest-based discussions, established ground rules and talked about the kind of relationship we want to have. Facilitated joint sessions took place January 17-18. Both parties also met individually with the facilitator to discuss their respective issues and interests. There are more joint meetings scheduled for this week and beyond.

I am encouraged by our common desire for improved trust and interactions with the goal of reaching a provincial agreement. The process of getting there, and the provisions that would be established, create a foundation for future success.

We are holding true to your needs for stable practices and the ability to deliver the care that your patients need - value for patients and fairness for physicians. The interests we have identified include high-quality care; addressing economic concerns; providing dispute resolution; establishing continuance for agreements and programs; and ensuring strong representation, including in fee-for-service, Alternative Relationship Plans and the Academic Medicine and Health Services Program. We must also address health policy issues, such as physician resources and support for primary care as the backbone of the system.

The Board meets regularly for negotiation sessions with physician leaders from across the profession. At the February 3-4 meeting we considered how best to engage the membership to provide the front-line expertise that will be needed. We are planning that engagement now, from webinars to meetings with governance leaders like the Representative Forum and AMA sections. There may be working groups convened to advise the main negotiations table in different subject areas. We’ll continue to keep you as updated as we can. You can always provide feedback to me directly. Please keep your input and questions coming.

One of the most frequent queries I receive is about the status of the AMA lawsuit. Truly, I am encouraged by interactions with Minister Copping and Alberta Health with respect to the work we have done together so far. However, the process of negotiating our way through complicated issues still lies ahead. I remain optimistic that we will be successful in reaching and ratifying a quality agreement. While we pursue this preferable goal, the lawsuit continues to move through the necessary steps. As you probably know, especially if you’ve had experience with lawsuits and the legal system, this can be quite a lengthy process.

We will continue to keep you informed as we move forward in both situations. Reach me with your comments or questions at president@albertadoctors.org.

Sincerely,

Vesta Michelle Warren, MD, CCFP, FCFP
President, Alberta Medical Association

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