WHEREAS on February 20, 2020 the Government of Alberta ended negotiations with the Alberta Medical Association and terminated the master agreement with Alberta physicians; and
WHEREAS the master agreement ended on March 31, 2020, when a new physician funding framework was implemented; and
WHEREAS the new funding framework changes how Alberta physicians are compensated; and
WHEREAS physicians have expressed serious concerns about the viability of their practices under the new framework, especially in rural Alberta; and
WHEREAS rural and small municipalities have historically struggled to attract physicians under the now-terminated master agreement, making the prospect of doctors leaving under the new framework very likely;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta urge the Government of Alberta to reengage in negotiations with the Alberta Medical Association to mutually arrive at a new master agreement that ensures continued timely access to healthcare for all rural Albertans.
Rural municipalities across Alberta have been expressing grave concerns with the new physician funding framework.
On February 20, 2020, the Government of Alberta ended negotiations with the Alberta Medical Association and unexpectedly terminated their master agreement with Alberta’s doctors. The master agreement expired on March 31, 2020, with a new, much more restrictive funding framework taking its place. While enactment of the complex modifier and clinical stipend recommendations have been suspended, the nine other funding framework recommendations are currently in effect.
Doctors in Lac La Biche County, rural Alberta, and the entire province have serious doubts about the viability of their practices under the new framework. Even under the now-expired framework, it has been especially difficult to attract and retain doctors to rural Alberta.
With the new model in place, rural clinics could close as physicians move elsewhere. Without local practices, patients will travel long distances to other communities for routine medical check-ups, or take up valuable time in emergency rooms. Moreover, with fewer doctors in communities, local hospitals may have to reduce hours and services or shut down entirely. In emergency situations, where minutes or even seconds can make a difference, many Albertans will lack medical care when they need it most.
Lac La Biche County believes that the Alberta Medical Association and Government of Alberta must renegotiate and come to an agreement that ensures equitable access to medical services for everyone in this province, regardless of where they live. It is imperative that doctors are fairly compensated for the outsized role that they play in keeping our communities healthy and safe. This is especially critical in the midst of a global pandemic, when we need our medical community focused on their jobs rather than their compensation.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
RMA has not received a response from Alberta Health (AH) to this resolution. Both AH and the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) have made proposals regarding a new master agreement, however, there is currently not a new master agreement in place.
The Government of Alberta and the Alberta Medical Association have reached an agreement which supports the shared priorities of both groups. The agreement includes significant investment into recruitment and retention of physicians in underserved and underserviced communities and a one-time $2 million increase of funding for the RESIDE program, which provides incentives for family physicians to practice in rural Alberta. As a result of renewed agreement, RMA assigns this resolution a status of Accepted.