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Alberta doctors put forward new offer to government: 'Take yes for an answer'

Last Updated Jul 16, 2020 at 6:14 am MST

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Alberta doctors launched an ad campaign Wednesday morning that directly addressed Health Minister Tyler Shandro, telling him to “take yes for an answer.”

The Alberta Medical Association has made its offer to the province public.

The group will accept a three-year physician budget cap of $4.57 billion annually, work with the province to manage the budget and explore new payment models, and improve the health care system.

In return, the AMA is looking for the province to pay for any new doctors over the existing number of physicians they have, restore their rights to binding arbitration, and continue funding for programs and grants such as maternity/paternity benefits.

READ MORE: Mass exodus of doctors possible says Alberta Medical Association

“The Canada Health Act really indicates that we should be treated fairly because we’re not allowed to charge for our services, we’re not allowed to strike, there should be meaningful dispute resolution processes in place,” Doctor Christine Molnar said. She’s the president of the AMA.

“This government needs to come back and talk with us in a meaningful way.”

The AMA said this is the sixth offer they have tabled in negotiations with the United Conservative government which has been ongoing since November 2019.

“If physicians start voting with their feet, it’s not going to be good for any of us,” Molnar added. She was referring to an AMA study that indicated 42 per cent of doctors are considering a move outside Alberta.

“There are two claims in the AMA’s paid advertisement that need to be addressed,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro responded.

READ MORE: Province looks to ‘modernize’ health care through suite of amendments

“The AMA claims that they submitted three offers that would hold the budget to current levels. This is simply untrue. The AMA knows full well that an offer on a $5.4 billion dollar budget of taxpayer’s money requires language that commits both parties to a shared goal, keeping spending within the budget target. We have unfortunately seen hollow promises from the AMA before.” Shandro said in a written statement to 660 NEWS.

“The AMA suggests that funding for programs and grants such as maternity and paternity benefits and physician health programming is in jeopardy. I want to be absolutely clear: funding for those benefits will not only be maintained but increased. We will do so by streamlining the administration of these dollars, making sure that every dollar available reaches Alberta’s physicians.”

He noted the government is hoping to hold spending to current levels rather than increase it anymore.