Alberta doctors want arbitration in contract dispute

The association representing Alberta's doctors says it want to go to arbitration after failed contract negotiations with the province.

Health Minister Fred Horne has shot down idea of arbitration

The president of the Alberta Medical Association says doctors are willing to submit to arbitrage in contract dispute. (CBC)

The association representing Alberta's doctors says it wants to go to arbitration following unsuccessful contract negotiations with the province.

The Alberta Medical Association (AMA) and the province have been working with mediators since December to reach new contract terms. On Thursday, the mediators recommended that if the two sides cannot reach a deal they should submit to arbitration.

AMA president Michael Giuffre accepted the idea, saying the province and union might be too far apart to come to an agreement on their own.

"Really, what the ministers numbers represent for physicians is about a 22.5 per cent decrease for physicians across Alberta," Giuffre said Friday.

Health Minister Fred Horne has already shot down the idea of arbitration, saying the province does not have the money to pay more than the $3.4 billion laid out in the recent provincial budget.

However, Giuffre says that won't work and it's too early to say if any job action will be taken by doctors.

"If we have a scenario where there's not capacity any longer — that physicians now are sending patients back into the system — and the system has actually been cut, now the system wants to download to the community," says Giuffre.

"We have a vicious cycle of poor access and decreased care for our patients and that's very concerning."