The Alberta Medical Association has refused to provide Health Minister Fred Horne with suggestions on how to cut $275 million from the physician compensation budget.
Horne asked doctors for their input by Friday. But in a letter sent to Horne, AMA president Dr. Michael Giuffre said the process is unfair and his members will not take part.
He called on Horne to return to the negotiating table and accept the facilitators' recommendation to move to binding arbitration if a settlement can't be reached.
Giuffre also sent a letter to Premier Alison Redford asking her to tell Horne to "cease his untrustworthy behaviour toward Alberta’s physicians" and resume talks.
"I would like the premier [to instruct] Minister Horne to either return to the table or have someone who can return to the table and get the job done," Giuffre said.
Giuffre said he was trying to get Redford involved because Horne walked away from an agreement in principle reached in March 2012, imposed a settlement last November and is now imposing $275 million in cuts.
Giuffre says if Horne wants to make cuts, he will have to make those decisions.
‘Offensive and disappointing’
Horne said he discussed Giuffre’s letters with Redford on Friday.
"What I’d say on behalf of both of us is that we are disappointed that the president has chosen to make this personal, to engage in a personal attack particularly upon myself," he said.
"It’s offensive and disappointing but we’re not going to get into that kind of a response."
Horne says he has to work within a fixed budget for physician compensation — $3.4 billion.
If the AMA won’t make suggestions on where to cut, Horne said he will eventually have to take action to keep within the budget.
"I’m hopeful that they will reconsider," he said. "I don’t think scaring patients is the answer to this and I don’t think a public relations war is the answer to this.
"I think the answer lies at the negotiating table but it comes with a recognition that that there are some budgetary constraints."
Horne says that negotiations are continuing with meetings scheduled for Friday afternoon and next week.
He believes that progress has been made with the facilitator on issues that don’t involve money.