Gateway Gazette

Government and Physicians to Discuss Sustainability of Health System

 

Alberta Health and the Alberta Medical Association are set to commence formal negotiations on issues affecting the fiscal state and sustainability of our province’s health system.

“Alberta is fortunate to have some of the best doctors in Canada. The upcoming negotiations are about improving health-care delivery for Albertans, and to better support physicians in their efforts to deliver the best care possible. We need to put Alberta’s health-care system on a solid fiscal footing for the future, so that our families and loved ones have access to the right care, by the right professional, in the right place, at the right time, for the right value. These are big challenges, but by working together we can begin moving forward.”

Sarah Hoffman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health

The relationship between the Government of Alberta and Alberta’s physicians is defined by the existing 2011-18 AMA Agreement. The negotiations will have the aim of managing the rate of growth of the physician services budget, improving the effective provision of health care to Albertans, and jointly ensuring the sustainability of the health-care system. Any changes to the existing AMA Agreement would need to be approved by both parties. Until then, the existing agreement continues to be in place.

“Alberta Health and the province’s physicians will be working together on improving our current relationship as defined by the AMA Agreement. Having an agreement in place to which both parties are committed provides the opportunity to review our current provisions – but also seek improvements that serve the interests of both parties and enhance what we can deliver for patients.”

Dr. Carl W. Nohr, President, Alberta Medical Association

The negotiations commence February 25 under a memorandum of agreement that was signed by both parties. As has been the practice with past negotiations, discussions will be confidential.

Although spending on health care has increased by an average of 5.8 per cent annually over the past 20 years, Alberta is not always achieving the best health outcomes compared to other provinces. Currently, Alberta Health’s budget is $19.7 billion, which is approximately 45 per cent of government’s budget – and is expected to grow to more than 60 per cent if changes to how the system is structured are not made. This rate of health spending in Alberta is much higher than other provinces, on a per capita basis.

This was a key topic at the February 8 policy forum, “Physicians as Stewards of Resources,” hosted by the Institute of Health Economics and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health.

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