Doctors to vote on tentative agreement with Alberta government next week

·2 min read
Details of the agreement were submitted for all AMA members to review on Friday, the association's president, Vesta Michelle Warren, said in a letter posted the same day. Doctors will be able to vote starting September 13. (MAD.vertise/Shutterstock - image credit)
Details of the agreement were submitted for all AMA members to review on Friday, the association's president, Vesta Michelle Warren, said in a letter posted the same day. Doctors will be able to vote starting September 13. (MAD.vertise/Shutterstock - image credit)

After more than two years without an agreement, the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) and the Alberta government announced Friday that they have negotiated a potential ratification package for the province's doctors.

Its details were submitted for AMA members to review on Friday, the association's president, Vesta Michelle Warren, said in a letter posted the same day.

Physicians will be able to vote on the package from Sept.13 until the 28.

Warren said it includes improvements to fees and "restores fair and appropriate mechanisms to deal with physician compensation."

"We are working together to address the serious challenges facing the health system and the issues brought forward by physicians throughout the province," Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping and Warren said in a joint statement on Friday.

"We share the same goals of stabilizing the health system including the physician practices that are part of infrastructure."

Years of tension

The newly proposed agreement comes after tension between the province's physicians and the United Conservative government began in Feb. 2020, when former Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro unilaterally ended the AMA's master agreement and imposed a new physician compensation framework.

At the time, Shandro said the changes would prevent an overrun on the province's budget. But the move sparked public outcry, a lawsuit, accusations on both sides of bad-faith bargaining and doctors withdrawing services in protest.

Physicians also voted down a tentative agreement in 2021 that would have had them give up the right to third-party arbitration and allowed the government to withhold payments from doctors if overspending was expected.

On Friday, the AMA tweeted that it would not be commenting on social media or giving interviews regarding the proposed agreement.

The Alberta College of Family Physicians also declined to comment until voting is complete "out of respect of due process."