The No Vote + two days

April 1, 2021

Dr. Paul E. Boucher, AMA President

Dear Members: 

To avoid days of silence at an important time, I wanted to write again before the weekend, which I hope will be a short break for many.  

I appreciate all the members who have written since the ratification vote to offer thoughtful comments on next steps for the AMA. There is a sense of unity within the association and a determination to continue to work toward an agreement that will deliver sufficient value for patients, with fairness and stability for physicians. This must remain our goal. A health care system without an agreement between government and physicians is an untenable situation.  

Our first priority is to fully engage with members to learn more about your concerns and priorities. We are currently exploring a number of options: Board meetings with physician leaders; another special Representative Forum; live-streamed grassroots member engagement opportunities; webinars; surveys; and online discussions. The engagement opportunities we have had in recent weeks have been incredibly informative and I look forward to hearing more from all of you.  

Regarding next steps, I have spoken with the Minister and we anticipate meeting next week. We need to begin by deciding what our relationship is going to look like as we move forward. There are many issues facing us in health care and how we deal with them will depend on this relationship. The question of the physician support programs needs to be resolved as an early priority. There is an urgent need to support practices in the next phase of COVID-19. PRAC ID restrictions are due to be implemented a year from now, and we require a needs-based physician resource plan built on engagement with multiple stakeholders. As contracting for publicly funded services is set to begin, we must work out the details to ensure patients have equitable access and physicians can maintain autonomy and ownership of the practice of medicine. It is my strong view that all of these activities need to be addressed collaboratively and should build toward a negotiated agreement.   

These have been tremendously stressful weeks as the third wave of COVID-19 looms. I know Albertans very much appreciate all that you have done for them in the battle so far. I hope that you are looking after yourselves through this difficult time.

Always remember, the AMA’s Physician and Family Support Program is available for support if you need it, 24/7/365 at 1-877-767-4637

I appreciate the opportunity to serve you in this next phase of our journey to a new agreement. Be well and safe.

Your comments are welcome in the following ways:

  • Communicate with me privately and directly by email if you would like a reply: president@albertadoctors.org  
  • Comment publicly on this President’s Letter on the AMA website (please be aware that comments are public, i.e., not members-only, even if you are logged in as a member). 

Sincerely,

Paul E. Boucher, MD, FRCPC
President, Alberta Medical Association

6 comments

Commenting on this page is closed.

  • #1

    James Currie

    Physician

    2:03 PM on April 01, 2021

    It’s difficult to know where we go from here but I’m glad the tentative agreement was rejected. There is no trust in the current minister or the government and clearly the majority of AMA members agree with me. Given that we already have binding arbitration (according to a previous ruling of the Supreme Court) which the government cannot legislate away without recourse to the notwithstanding clause of the constitution, we must be particularly careful as to what we negotiate away. If there should be an NDP government in two years they will also be tough but I suspect they will be more fair

  • #2

    Mitch Lavoie

    Physician

    3:35 PM on April 01, 2021

    Great deal for the AMA but little positive for patients or docs.

    AMA may well be in a conflict of interest in these negotiations.

  • #3

    Fraser Olsen

    Physician

    5:52 PM on April 01, 2021

    Any agreement which fails to directly address the current disparity between virtual and in person billing codes is doomed. The physician budget surplus is clear evidence of that disparity. Patients have come to Expect virtual care options to continue long term at this point. The codes introduced last spring were meant to be temporary. Rising healthcare needs due to the ongoing pandemic have resulted in physicians logging more hours than ever with significantly reduced compensation.

  • #4

    David Clements Cold Lake

    Member of the public

    2:26 PM on April 05, 2021

    Please continue the negotiations. I am behind the doctors 200%. Several doctors I have talked to have been adversely affected by this neoliberal non compromising Minister and government in general. We appreciate your struggling on.

  • #5

    Penny-Marie Elizabeth Wright

    Member of the public

    2:45 PM on April 05, 2021

    I am hoping things get fixed soon. If the government continues to wreck the medical system patients will suffer. I've been seeing my family doctor for some 30 years now. It started at a Walk-In Clinic & I saw him on the days he was there unless I had an urgent matter. When he went to a private clinic which requires app. I wanted to continue with him & he was willing to continue with me. He is my main contact before all the others I see of which there are 3 or 4 specialists who I also need due to 3 incurable diseases. Kenney has to smarten up & not make things worse.

  • #6

    Sten Lif

    Member of the public

    5:30 PM on April 05, 2021

    I must comment on the seemingly lack of interest by 47% of the physicians who failed to vote on the recommended (by AMA) agreement. After all the acrimony between physicians & Minister of Health over the past many months I would have expected a much higher voter turnout. What does this really say about those who chose to sit on the sidelines? Also for those that did vote, the difference between 53% voting ‘no’ & 47% voting ‘yes’ is not all that much (approx. 400 votes). I don’t understand how the 47% would even consider voting for an agreement that the Minister could change or cancel on a whim. Of course not being a physician I am not privy to the contents of the recommended agreement so I can’t comment on its contents. In any case I would hope that physicians would not accept an agreement while holding their nose & I would hope the AMA negotiators would not recommend an agreement that would require the physicians to do so. The physicians & the AMA have got to ensure that AB can retain its physicians & attract new ones because after all it is the patient that will be the ultimate winner. Best of luck with negotiations & do not give in to mediocrity.

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