The provincial government and Alberta’s physicians have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provides long-term stability for the health care system and improves care for patients.
“There’s no question that this deal will benefit patients — it meets our fiscal goals and ensures we can keep working with our highly trained and internationally respected doctors to improve our cherished health care system. This has been a long and challenging process and I’m very proud of the work that Minister Fred Horne and Dr. Giuffre have done to reach this significant milestone,” said Premier Alison Redford.
“I have been in continuous discussions with Dr. Giuffre during the past two and a half weeks to get this deal done,” said Horne. “Our pride in the work physicians do for patients has never wavered. We have been successful in arriving at an agreement that improves access and quality of care for patients, and at the same time addresses very real fiscal constraints faced by our province. I’m very pleased we’ve reached this important milestone and I am confident a final agreement is close.”
“I believe this MOU can provide what physicians have been seeking to deliver the care our patients need and deserve,” said Dr. Michael Giuffre, president of the Alberta Medical Association. “It establishes how physicians will be involved when decisions are made about the health system. The financial package recognizes the realities facing both parties and addresses challenges for physician practices such as climbing overhead costs. Finally, we have established a better approach to dealing with agreements, fees and programs in the future, including productive ways to resolve disputes.”
The MOU, signed by Horne and Giuffre, forms the framework for a final agreement with Alberta physicians.
The seven-year deal freezes compensation for three years back to 2011 and provides increases from 2014-15 to 2017-18.
The MOU includes:
• No increases from 2011-12 to 2013-14, a 2.5-per-cent increase in each of 2014-15 and 2015-16, and a cost of living adjustment in 2016-17 and 2017-18;
• A one-time lump-sum payment totaling $68 million, to be distributed by the AMA in consultation with Alberta Health, to address various financial challenges faced by physician practices;
• Commitment to an ongoing agreement that reflects the permanency of the relationship between Alberta Health and the AMA;
• Creation of a physician compensation committee to oversee compensation practices and any future changes, including reviewing and adjusting relative payment rates, or fees;
• Arbitration rights on prices for fees and specific benefits;
• Recognition of the AMA as the ongoing representative of physicians for compensation negotiations going forward;
• Commitment for Alberta Health and the AMA to continue to work together on how primary care evolves in the future;
• Commitment by Alberta Health to consult with the AMA on a new electronic medical records strategy for physicians; and
• Commitment to consult together on matters outside the agreement that touch and concern physicians.
In addition to what is specifically set out in the agreement, the parties have also agreed to continue discussions on opportunities where Alberta Health, the AMA, and Alberta Health Services will work together to find efficiencies and savings within the health system.
Both parties will use the MOU as the basis to develop a final legal agreement by April 22. Each party will then take the agreement through their respective approval processes. The last physician agreement expired on March 31, 2011.