Update on Negotiations

September 15, 2021

Dr. Paul Boucher, AMA President

Dear Members,

As reported in my Presidents Letters over the summer, government requested that the Alberta Medical Association submit a proposal for possible changes that would make the rejected Tentative Agreement Package (TAP) acceptable to physicians. We have done so, and government is now considering their response. This will determine if the current round of discussions will continue. As part of our commitment to keep you informed, I invite you to read the negotiations update (member login required), which more fully reflects the latest details of our discussions with government.

While significant gaps remain, there is some room for optimism. Both parties have agreed to a broad vision and set of principles, reflecting what our relationship should be about. Government also appears to be more accepting of the need for physicians to have appropriate representation and a means to resolve disputes, though we have not yet received a specific response on these two issues.

Having said this, the differences that remain are significant. While I encourage all of you to read the negotiations update provided above, the following points summarize the AMA’s view on the key issues:

  1. Although government is proposing a budget increase to account for population in the later years, it is insufficient. As such, government is expecting physicians to pay for the services that Albertans will need through price cuts – this will not work and will damage our system.
  2. There needs to be transparent and fair processes for determining the levels and approaches to physician compensation. Physician compensation is a key policy lever and strategic opportunity for establishing incentives within the system.
  3. Disagreements on prices are damaging the relationship between government and physicians. Dispute resolution using third parties is needed.
  4. Physicians bring valuable expertise to the health policy table. Involving physicians will lead to improved decision making and uptake by the profession.

It is critical that government and physicians deal with their differences and begin building an effective and respectful relationship. COVID-19 continues, and the resulting care deficit continues to grow – more will be expected of health care providers, not less.

Our most recent survey of physicians dramatically illustrates the current mood in the profession and the toll the last few years has had on our members. The results indicate a lack of confidence in the overall management of the system and the significant challenges physicians face in meeting the demands being placed on them. Compared to our last member survey (conducted June 24 – July 3, 2020), the situation today is worse. In the coming weeks I will share more of this information with members, government and the public.

Representative Forum delegates received an overview of the information that was discussed at the Special RF Information Session on September 9. These same topics and issues will be discussed again at the September 24-25 Fall RF. Please feel free to contact your RF delegate/s with any questions or concerns you may have (myrfdelegate@albertadoctors.org).

I have very much appreciated all the input that physicians have provided, and I will continue to keep the membership informed as things develop. Please look after yourselves and stay 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 below on this President’s Letter (please be aware that comments are public, i.e., not members-only, even if you are logged in as a member)


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

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