Update on correspondence with government

September 16, 2020

Dr. Christine Molnar, AMA President

Dear Members:

Recently, members may have observed a few media reports regarding the status of negotiations between the AMA and provincial government. These media stories refer to what I wrote to you about in my August 21 President’s Letter: a request from the Minister to respond to a formal process of exchanging draft agreements. Our intention was to respond in writing, and we have done so.

The AMA’s submission, reflecting previous direction from the Representative Forum, aligns with the offer we made in early July. This includes defining how the parties would work together and what would happen if the Physician Services Budget is either under or over-expended. For example, the AMA feels that government should be fiscally responsible for any net new physicians over and above the current complement, according to a needs-based physician resource plan.

There are a number of very significant items where we have yet to find common ground (subject to the Minister’s reply to our proposal). These include:

  • Agreement term
  • Dispute resolution: Rather than having to resort to having a public fight when disagreements occur, the parties need a fair and respectful way to deal with disagreements that will arise.
  • Shared budget responsibility: As per above, the parties need to determine roles, responsibilities and accountability with respect to the budget.
  • Physician supply management: The AMA wants to ensure Albertans have access to the medical care they need and this needs to be done in a manner that incents the right behavior. To this end, the AMA proposal provides for the AMA, the Professional Association of Resident Physicians of Alberta, medical students and others to work with government in developing a needs-based physician resource plan to determine where recruitment needs to occur.
  • Information strategy: The parties need to work together to obtain accurate, independent information that is necessary to appropriately deal with issues during the term of the agreement and during the renegotiation process. This will lead to better decisions, based on high-quality data.
  • Recognition: Given the changing environment in Alberta regarding alternative relationship plans, contracting, etc., the AMA wants to ensure physicians are appropriately represented in these discussions.
  • Programs: The AMA proposal reinstates the administration of the programs to the Association, reflecting our vested interest and proven track record in providing seamless and efficient delivery of these programs to physicians.

Any agreement with government needs to deal effectively with these issues. This is in the best interest of patient care, the sustainability of medical practices across the province and the public purse. The key to success in all dimensions, including fiscal, is collaboration. Collaboration is an essential goal for our members and our patients. It is an essential characteristic of a high-performing health care system.

This brings you up to date with the latest developments in our ongoing efforts toward a negotiated agreement. We await the government’s written response and I will keep the membership informed.

Board, Representative Forum and Annual General Meeting

There is a full-day virtual meeting of the Board of Directors being held today, September 16. The meeting agenda will include finalization of the AMA’s business plan for 2020-21. The Representative Forum meets September 25-26, also virtually, and will discuss the issues addressed in this letter in greater detail. The RF will also learn how the AMA is focusing our resources under the Business Plan for the year ahead.

Members will have the opportunity to learn more about those plans during our inaugural, virtual Annual General Meeting on October 5 from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. Registration opens September 21, when you will also receive the detailed report from the Board to the membership, accounting for the Association’s activities and performance in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

This AGM will be an unprecedented opportunity for members to interact directly with AMA officers and senior staff. Mark your calendars and plan to participate. The next two years will be some of the most challenging our 115-year-old Association has ever experienced. We are calling on physicians, resident physicians and medical students to stand with us. Join us on October 5 to hear more about our plans to deliver even more value to members through our advocacy, unity, products and services. Find out how the AMA is adapting to serve you better - this year and beyond.

In your service,

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

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