The Alberta Medical Association (AMA) is asking doctors if they have confidence in Minister of Health Tyler Shandro — the latest escalation in a battle between the government and the association.
The organization announced Tuesday it is holding a referendum on the issue to figure out its next steps in dealing with the UCP government after the termination of its master agreement and changes to billing fees and rules.
“Our relationship with the provincial government has reached an all-time low,” president of the AMA, Dr. Christine Molnar, said in a statement to its members.
“We want every single doctor across this province to have an opportunity to vote, as this grassroots direction will guide our next steps and send a strong message to government.”
LISTEN BELOW: Dr. Christine Molnar joins The Ryan Jespersen Show
If the majority of physicians say they have lost confidence in the minister, the organization said they will “move this file from the Minister’s office, down the hall to the Premier’s office to find a resolution.”
The AMA said if doctors still have confidence in the minister it will continue to work with him and to “engage him in a meaningful way,” however, it comes with a warning.
“This will not be easy,” Molnar said. “Unfortunately, will likely be much more public than it has been to date.”
A statement from the minister’s office wouldn’t comment directly on the vote.
“Our Government has a mandate from Albertans to reduce wait times and make our health system more efficient. That is exactly what we are doing,” said spokesperson Steve Buick. “An online survey of a comparatively small number of the highest earners does not change that.”
The fight for a new contract between doctors in the province and the UCP has been a tumultuous and public one.
The AMA sued the government in April citing the termination of their agreement, which has been followed by a back and forth between the AMA and the health minister’s office.
The AMA claims that since negotiations began, Tyler Shandro has torn up the agreement before negotiations had finished, removed doctors’ rights to binding arbitration and incorrectly informed Albertans that the AMA never tabled any proposals or offered significant savings.
In response the minister has refuted the AMA’s claim that the organization has tabled three proposals, calling it “really misleading and incorrect.”
According to Shandro, the AMA has provided powerpoint presentations on the topic, but nothing that was signed.
“They know what an offer looks like and they’ve never once provided us a counteroffer that was signed.”
“For months now, the AMA has repeatedly attempted to engage the Minister of Health in an honest and fair negotiation with physicians,” Molnar said.
“At every turn, we have been met with a combination of indifference and increasing hostility.”
Doctors will have until July 28 at 11 p.m. to vote.