Take Note, Alberta: The Doctors Who Deliver Your Babies Are Distressed

ob:gyn

Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro have incurred the ire of many of Alberta’s doctors.  But when the busy, dedicated doctors who deliver the province’s babies and care for their mothers take the time to jointly pen a dismayed letter to the Health Minister, perhaps those leaders should take the hint that their approach has been utterly wrong-headed.

Open Letter to Health Minister Tyler Shandro

From the Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Alberta

May 21, 2020

Attention:  The Honourable Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health for Alberta

Dear Minister Shandro,

We are obstetricians and gynecologists in Alberta, and we write to you jointly today to express our deep dismay at the broken relationship between government and doctors.

These are extraordinarily challenging times for all Albertans.  We appreciate that they are particularly challenging for you, as you lead the provincial response to the greatest health crisis Alberta has experienced in more than a century.

We know that you are under tremendous pressure—pressure of a magnitude your predecessors could scarcely have imagined.

As obstetrician/gynecologists, we understand the importance of teamwork in crisis situations.  Frequently in our work we are confronted with medical and surgical emergencies—critical situations in which clear thinking and decisive action is needed to save our patients.

We lead those high-stakes interventions; but we are under no illusion that we achieve victory on our own:  it takes ALL members of our medical and surgical teams pulling together to bring our patients to safety.

Similarly, we understand how critically important it is for the Ministry of Health to have the doctors of Alberta on board during this pandemic.  We know how crucial it is that we work together to defeat COVID-19.  United, we will win.

To be clear, the principles of partnership and teamwork hold true at all times, not just during this pandemic.  At all times government and doctors should work collaboratively and tirelessly to optimize medical care for the citizens of Alberta.

Hence our current dismay.  Our partnership is fractured.  Our team is in disarray.

The all-important relationship between government and doctors has plummeted into a poison well of distrust—it struck bottom in February with the shredding of the Master Agreement between government and doctors.

For more than one hundred years the hardworking doctors of Alberta have elected representatives from among our ranks to represent us via the Alberta Medical Association.  And for more than one hundred years the AMA and government have worked collaboratively and successfully to serve the patients of Alberta.

Until now.  Now you have abruptly torn up our contract, sidelined the AMA, and unilaterally imposed a sea of changes without consultation with doctors.

The doctors of Alberta are the AMA.  By sidelining the AMA you are sidelining us.

In light of the pandemic, and under sustained pressure from beleaguered doctors, you have agreed to suspend most of the changes to our funding structure until October.  But we must warn you that those changes will be no less destructive in October.  The uncertainty plaguing our profession in the absence of a contract will be no less troublesome in the fall.

Doctors are distressed.  Many are angry.  Most are scared.

We are deeply worried about the long-term viability of our practices, and deeply worried about the well-being of our patients.

Many of our colleagues have openly called for your resignation, as they believe the relationship between you and doctors is irretrievably soured.

We hold onto the hope that the relationship can be restored.

But that will require that you come back to the table to meet with doctors.

That will require that you negotiate in good faith with the AMA; that you submit to arbitration, if necessary, to reach an agreement that is fair and equitable—an agreement that supports the value of physicians while recognizing the financial constraints of government.

We must have a contract with government if we are to move ahead with a joint sense of purpose.

You often state, as a key ministerial goal, that you want the majority of doctors to move to “alternate relationship plans”, replacing existing “fee-for-service” arrangements.

We would note that some of our members already practice within ARPs specifically tailored to the mix of clinical services they provide.  Whether “alternate relationship plans” can be developed for more of us, in a way that does not detract from timely and quality care for Albertans, is a matter for reasonable discussion—one that we are open to having in a thoughtful manner via the AMABut we would remind you that the key word in that construct is relationship—and at present our relationship lies in tatters.

Let’s work together to mend our relationship.

Let’s rebuild our partnership.

Let’s work to restore the trust that once existed between government and physicians.

Let’s move forward together.

Together, we will survive this pandemic.

Together, we can ensure that our health care system survives as well—for our sakes, and for the sake of all Albertans.

Respectfully,

Dr. Colin Birch

Dr. Duncan McCubbin

Dr. Sherri Gibbons

Dr. Joel Steed

Dr. Kendra Lamb

Dr. Stan Iwanicki

Dr. Dave Cenaiko

Dr. Pauline Ekwalanga

Dr. Jadine Paw

Dr. Dorothy Igras

Dr. Ari Sanders

Dr. Liane Belland

Dr. Quynh Tran

Dr. Claudia Naber

Dr. Amy Zakariasen

Dr. Maryam Nasr

Dr. Andrew Li

Dr. Jaime Schachar

Dr. Meriah Fahey

Dr. Sheila Caddy

Dr. Nikolett Raguz

Dr. Philippa Brain

Dr. Nancy Soliman

Dr. Shu Foong

Dr. Candace O’Quinn

Dr. Gail Lam

Dr. Laura Coughlan

Dr. Charlene Lyndon

Dr. Dhea Wallace-Chau

Dr. Magnus Murphy

Dr. Jacquie McCubbin

Dr. Fiona Mattatall

Dr. Joann Johnson

Dr. Jaelene Mannerfeldt

Dr.  Shunaha Kim-Fine

Dr. Magali Robert

Dr. Jason Min

Dr. Aisling Mahalingham

Dr. Anne Roggensack

Dr. Jennifer Soucie

Dr. Jill Nation

Dr. Gregg Nelson

Dr. Naomi Fridhandler

Dr. Rupinder Dhaliwal

Dr. Titilayo Oluyomi-Obi

Dr. Ian Lange

Dr. Karen Bailey

Dr. Katrina Krakowski

Dr. Lisa Teitelbaum

Dr. Emily Sandwith

Dr. Eve-Lyne Langlais

Dr. Joni Kooy

Dr. Anna Cameron

Dr. Christa Aubrey

Dr. Cindy Kao

Dr. Ben Wong

Dr. Brian Hauck

Dr. David Somerset

Dr. Erin Brennand

Dr. Greg Connors

Dr. Jeffrey Pollard

Dr. Jennifer Walsh

Dr. John Jarrell

Dr. Joseph O’Keane

Dr. Kelly Albrecht

Dr. Michael Secter

Dr. Michelle Suri

Dr. Nicole Paterson

Dr. Pamela Chu

Dr. Prafull Ghatage

Dr. Rati Chadha

Dr. Sarah Glaze

Dr. Selma Scott

Dr. Shannon Dwinnell

Dr. Simrit Brar

Dr. Stephanie Cooper

Dr. Sue Baranowski

Dr. Verena Kuret

Dr. Tom Gotz

Dr. Christine Osborne

Dr. Neville Galan

Dr. Nikolett Raguz

Dr. Gail Lam

Dr. Ingrid Kristensen

Dr. Jocelyn Donnelly

Dr. Katherine Lo

Dr. Kovid Lee

Dr. Matthew Grossi

Dr. Paul Henning

Dr. Viviana Chang

Dr. Weronika Harris-Thompson

Dr. Wynne Leung

Dr. Albert Rosengarten

Dr. Clinton Chow

Dr. Alese Wagner

Dr. Bruce Allan

Dr. Carolyn LeJour

Dr. Chandrew Rajakumar

Dr. Don Wilson

Dr. Eider Ruiz Mirazo

Dr. Jackie Thurston

Dr. James Watson

Dr. Kathryn Kenny

Dr. Sarah McQuillan

Dr. Christopher Cham

Dr. Aaron Pink

Dr. Kevin Wiebe

Dr. Jane Schulz

Dr. Cathy Flood

Dr. May Sanaee

Dr. Momoe Hyakutake

Dr. Erin Kelly

Dr. Annick Poirier

Dr. Pieter Kruger

Dr. Jeanelle Sabourin

Dr. Aubrey Uretsky

Dr. Jaye Malach

Dr. Dwaine Larose

Dr. Amanda Kim

Dr. Ashley Fyfe-Brown

Cc:  Dr. Christine Molnar, President, Alberta Medical Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Reply to “Take Note, Alberta: The Doctors Who Deliver Your Babies Are Distressed”

  1. Thank you to the O&G members for this brave message.
    Mr Shandro and Mr Kenney it’s time to stop the lies and return to the table.
    I promise you the doctors and the strength of their message is not going to go away. The longer you push us away and devalue the louder our collective voice will become.
    The doctors are caring, responsible, highly educated and empathetic members of our society who literally work for all Albertans. Your smear is not working.
    The doctors will win whether you negotiate in good faith or you continue to box us out illegally.

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