Voting begins: PCN Framework – a major step towards integrated health care

May 12, 2017

Dear Member:

A PCN vote begins

On May 15 (and through June 13), primary care network (PCN) physicians begin voting on a proposed PCN Governance Framework.

If you are a PCN physician, I want to ensure that you know about the vote and how to vote. If you are not a PCN physician, I want to tell you about this event and why it matters to everyone.

The PCN Governance Framework was developed (under the AMA Amending Agreement) by the AMA and Alberta Health in partnership with PCN member physicians and Alberta Health Services. Achieving this milestone and completing the framework is a significant accomplishment for the profession and our partners.

Voting details for PCN physicians

I encourage all PCN members to cast your vote.

If you are a PCN physician and if your contact email is up-to-date, you will receive an email from on May 15 with your electronic ballot.

After May 15, if you have not received a ballot, please email to receive one.

For more information on the framework, how the vote will work and what it all means for you and your PCN, please visit: The website content includes an excellent short video from Dr. Phillip van der Merwe, co-chair, PCN Physician Leads Executive.

Please note that a double majority vote of PCN physician members and PCNs is required.

Why this matters to everyone

One of the more important achievements of the Amending Agreement is that it recognizes PCNs as the foundation of the primary health care system. To physicians, this may seem an obvious fundamental assumption. However, this is the first time in my memory where there has been such a commitment from government – and for PCNs to be characterized as more than just one of the important players.

That is why the Amending Agreement included a commitment to develop a governance framework that would be subject to a ratification vote by PCN physicians. The work of primary care physician leaders – particularly the PCN physician leads and their provincial leads executive committee – with Alberta Health in developing the framework for ratification is to be commended.

If ratified, the framework will:

  • Build a foundation for decision making, establishing appropriate processes and services that will be standard across PCNs. 
  • Give PCNs stability in primary health care. 
  • Allow for greater accountability and ensure the roles and responsibilities for all parties are clear. 
  • Allow for three levels of governance: provincial, zonal and local with communication flowing up from PCNs to zones, to the provincial committee and vice versa. 
  • Formalize relationships and encourage resource sharing with all five zones. 
  • Improve linkages within the system.

In the big picture, a ratified framework will help develop a more integrated system with seamless transitions from primary to secondary/acute care and back again. Other activities are underway that will contribute to this end, including patient and provider registries that are key for numerous delivery initiatives, the voluntary blended capitation compensation model for primary care and expansion of alternative payment models.

I look forward to the results of the vote. I will write again soon with other news, including the upcoming special meeting of the Representative Forum on June 10 to focus on income equity.

Please let me know what you think: email

Yours truly,

Padraic E. Carr, BMedSc, MD, FRCPC, DABPN

1 comment

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  • #1

    Brian McPeak


    8:26 AM on May 14, 2017

    Why is this being ratified before the proposed funding structure is in place?! This is an AH strategy and no accident. The rhetoric speaks of "collaborative communication" between three levels of governance. Really this provides AH with more power to gather data and impose unilateral change regardless of what physicians "communicate". I obviously understand our professional responsibility to both patients and the health care system, but I no longer feel the AMA best represents membership interest, and has naively become AH's lap dog.

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