Alberta doctors, province establish working group to resume contract talks
Health minister says he's open to reviewing proposals
The president of the Alberta Medical Association says it has agreed to establish a working group alongside the Alberta government to help resume talks between the two parties, after contract discussions broke down last month.
"I am pleased to advise you that discussions continue next week with the Alberta government in an attempt toward a physician agreement that provides value for patients, fairness for physicians and affordability for the system," AMA president Christine Molnar said in a statement sent out Saturday.
Molnar said the working group will consist of the following members:
- Dr. Kabir Jivraj, Dr. Lyle Oberg, Feisal Keshavjee and Ivan Bernardo on behalf of the government.
- Dr. Darryl LaBuick, Dr. Michael Giuffre, Mike Gormley and Hal Danchilla on behalf of the AMA.
Molnar said she has written to AMA members about preparations, including legal options, since Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the UCP government would rip up the existing contract and impose changes to billing and compensation after negotiations broke down.
But Molnar said Saturday she hopes the upcoming discussions will replace the need for those actions.
A statement from the AMA on the development said it's time to repair the strained relationship between the province and doctors.
"Unfortunately the tone and tenor of public discourse about this dispute has become increasingly hostile, negative and personal," the statement read. "We agree that it is in everyone's interest to keep discussions professional and civil and ensure that information circulated is accurate."
On Twitter, the health minister thanked the AMA for committing to moving forward.
"As I have always said, I am open to reviewing any proposals that may be put forward by @AlbertaDoctors within the fiscal imperative of the government. Like the AMA, we are committed to a sustainable health care system, with quality and value at its foundation," Shandro wrote.
Tara Jago, a spokesperson for the health minister, said while the province is open to reviewing any proposals, the limit on physician spending is set at $5.4 billion.
"Discussions on a variety of matters important to government and the AMA have been occurring in many different forms, both formal and informal. A small working group has been established to assist the AMA in presenting any proposals that they may wish to bring forward," she said in an emailed statement.