Your voice will matter; physician leader openings; executive news

November 30, 2023

Dr. Paul Parks, AMA President

Dear Members,

Physician Leadership

Earlier this month, the Minister of Health announced a plan for what is being referred to as the Health System Refocus. I provided some information on this development in an earlier President’s Letter, and I have been actively engaged with government, AMA members and the media discussing some of the pros – and a lot of the potential cons – of this approach. Government has advised that the full implementation of this plan will take 18 – 24 months, and they’ve acknowledged there are significant issues to work through, not least of which is continuity of care.
It is essential that the voice of front-line health professionals is heard in policy, planning and implementation. Today I can tell you that the voice of physicians will be heard. Government has proposed a Working Table with the AMA. The Terms of Reference include:

  • “To provide a collaborative forum to generate advice for the Minister of Health on issues and solutions related to supporting a single functioning health care system, with specialized areas to create a seamless patient journey for Albertans.”
  • “The Working Table will ensure advice on Health System Refocus considers the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) and physician perspectives.”

This Working Table will be composed of five members from Alberta Health and five from the AMA, with decisions made on a “consensus basis, wherever possible, regarding the recommendations that will be made to the minister. If consensus cannot be achieved, a majority vote will take precedence, with any tie to be decided by the Chair.” The Table will report to the Minister of Health, through the Associate Deputy Minister who we expect will serve as Chair and provide quarterly updates to the Minister on all aspects of the Health System Refocus.

Leadership opportunity

We intend to have a proactive and comprehensive agenda at the Working Table and with government to ensure physicians’ interests are represented in every aspect of health care delivery, including governance considerations for primary care as suggested in the MAPS report. We will ensure our agenda is well-aligned with the ongoing leadership of physicians already involved in the many existing committees and working groups.
I have been advocating for a first meeting of this Working Table as soon as possible. To facilitate this approach, on an interim basis we have designated five members of the AMA Board of Directors to represent the association. The Board, however, recognizes that AMA membership on the Working Table will need to reflect the functional areas of the proposed new health care structure (Health System Refocus): primary care; acute care; mental health and addictions; and continuing care. To that end, we will be issuing a call for expressions of interest to serve at the Working Table. We will promote the opportunity heavily when we are ready to accept applications. For anyone who may be interested in this opportunity, please reflect on the extent to which you may currently be practicing across functional lines of the four units of the Health System Refocus. There are many physicians who work across acute, primary, mental health and addictions and continuing care – or some combination thereof. It will be highly beneficial for the AMA membership to include this perspective in the members we send to the Working Table.

Please watch for more information about this important new initiative, and I look forward to engaging with members who are interested in serving.

Leadership change

I have other news to share today. Our Executive Director will be moving on to a new challenge, after a too-brief time with the AMA. We appreciate all that she has invested personally and professionally while with the association.

As of December 8, Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer Cameron Plitt will assume the role of Acting Executive Director.

The Board and I know that Mr. Plitt and our senior management team will lead the organization well with our oversight, and they have our complete confidence. I will keep you apprised as the search for an Executive Director commences.


Paul Parks
President, Alberta Medical Association

1 comment

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  • #1

    Allan Garbutt


    2:24 PM on December 04, 2023

    Paul: About payment to NP. When I was on the Rural Health Care Review Panel, how to pay NP was a big topic. They insisted they needed independent funding, and they wanted it through the SOMB. The MLA, Richard Starke, told us that to pay through SOMB would require changes to legislation governing those payments. He also told us that the changes would take a long time (not 3-4 months), likely years, unless the Govt. made those changes a priority and pushed hard to get them through.
    I am not aware of the necessary rule changes going through before now.
    You may want to look into this, and see where we stand on dollars to NP.
    And, as a closing comment, so much for collaboration and consultation. And Team Based Care.

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