We are under attack

July 20, 2020

Dr. Christin Molnar, AMA President

Dear Members:

Last week, the Alberta Medical Association released our most-recent negotiations proposal. This was in response to the disrespectful, misleading and, frankly, baffling behavior that we have seen from the Minister for so many months. I have written to him this weekend regarding his response to our release; you can read the letter on our website.

On Saturday, a special virtual meeting of the Representative Forum was held to discuss our current situation with government. I want to thank delegates who made themselves available and provided wise counsel for the Board at this very difficult time.

In my opening comments, I said this to delegates: “I come before you today without apology to confront the unassailable fact that our profession is under attack by government.”

I found it incredible to have to speak those words. At every turn, government - particularly the Minister - has shown the intention to objectify, diminish and disempower physicians in this province. Their actions speak loudly.

The pillars of our profession are threatened. We are witnessing changes to self-regulation at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta, with ministerial directives to the College that threaten basic charter rights. In the absence of an AMA master agreement, we struggle to create a stable financial basis for practices and to define roles, responsibilities and collaborative objectives to improve the system. Our rights to arbitration have been taken from us. Then there is Bill 21 and the resulting PRAC ID restrictions, limiting and controlling new physician supply and adversely affecting our medical students and residents. Let’s not forget the bylaw review changes in Alberta Health Services, and the list could go on.

The RF condemned the Minister’s treatment of the profession. A number of motions were passed and you’ll be hearing about the direct action to come from these. In the meantime, new AMA advertisements launch today on social media, digital news and other internet sites.

I want to let you to know that the RF is standing with you. We stand with you for fair treatment and respect and for what, up until now, we have always possessed: a structured agreement between the profession and government through which our voices and expertise can be applied to bring value for patients in a fiscally sustainable health care system.

Over the past months, I have lost count of how many members have expressed support by phone, email, Zoom or safely distanced hallway chats. I am so grateful for each of these encounters, which typically end with the words, “Let me know if I can help.”

That time has now come. Tomorrow, July 21, you will learn what every single member of the AMA can do to contribute. Please watch for further member communication tomorrow.

As we prepared to send this letter, the AMA received a copy of a news release and open letter from the Eye Physicians and Surgeons Association of Alberta, advising that ophthalmologists wish to negotiate directly with the Minister.

Having just received the news, I am disappointed that EPSAA colleagues believe that their interests are divergent from that of the AMA. We do not yet understand what process was followed and will be seeking more information.

There has been a long-standing AMA Income Equity Initiative. EPSAA has expressed concerns with the effort, to the point of bringing in legal counsel and raising the potential for legal action.

There may also have been concern about our weekend RF meeting and the overwhelming support for taking steps to address the current state of the relationship with the Minister.

In contradiction to what has been stated, the AMA has never taken the position that there was unanimity on all the complex issues facing the profession. Rather, the AMA is the place where the profession can come together and deal with these issues in a respectful and forthright manner while focusing on common goals for quality patient care.

In your service,

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


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Alberta Medical Association Mission: Advocate for and support Alberta physicians. Strengthen their leadership in the provision of sustainable quality care.