Minister of Health Tyler Shandro issued the following statement in response to the Alberta Medical Association’s (AMA) paid advertising:
“There are two claims in the AMA’s paid advertisement that need to be addressed.
“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 budget of taxpayer 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. In 2016, the former government signed a deal with the AMA that they claimed would save $500 million over two years. In reality, annual spending on physicians went up by more than $1 billion by 2018 – a 23 per cent increase.
“Second, 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.
“Physician spending represents 10 per cent of the total provincial budget and is forecasted to grow by billions if we do nothing. This is at the same time that COVID-19 and the Russian-Saudi oil price war are severely affecting government revenues, as well as most Albertans’ take-home pay. It is critical that we act now.
“Our plan simply ensures spending is held to current levels – the highest in Alberta’s history and the highest per capita in Canada. It also ensures that Alberta’s doctors rightfully remain the highest paid in the country.”