Alberta health minister says ‘uncertainty’ remains in talks with doctors

Alberta’s health minister says he hasn’t given up on resolving a bitter dispute with the province’s doctors that developed after he tore up their master pay agreement.

Tyler Shandro said Monday that he is happy to continue talking with the Alberta Medical Association and met with president Dr. Christine Molnar for an extended period last week.

He said there is definitely “an uncertainty” in the relationship between the association and the provincial government.

Read more: Vast majority of Alberta doctors do not have confidence in health minister: AMA referendum

Shandro said the government provided doctors with a draft master agreement on Aug. 11.

“We invited the AMA to go through that draft and to red-line it and tell us how they want to be able to amend the draft we have given so we can work with them,” Shandro said.

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The Alberta Medical Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read more: Alberta escalates pay fight with doctors, asks regulatory college to intervene

After the original agreement was torn up in February, many doctors, particularly in rural areas, said they could no longer afford to both work in hospitals and keep up their practices.

The medical association has said at least 40 per cent of its members have at least contemplated leaving Alberta.

42% of Alberta doctors considering leaving the province for work: survey

42% of Alberta doctors considering leaving the province for work: survey

Shandro has dismissed that figure.

“We actually haven’t seen that happen in our rural communities, quite frankly, and we look forward to continuing to work with the 700 physicians who serve our rural and small urban patients in the province,” he said.

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Nine physicians in Sundre gave up their hospital privileges, then switched to a status, which allows them to get paid differently, but they still work at the hospital there, he said.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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