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Mediator to Help in Dispute between Doctors and Government of Alberta

Friday, February, 21, 2020

Doctors in Alberta and the government will be working with a mediator to assist them in breaking down the walls in negotiations regarding a new master agreement.  The Health Minister reports that there has been progress, but no resolution has been reached regarding the contract that is due to expire in a little over a month’s time.  


According to the head of the Alberta Medical Association, Dr. Christine Molnar, both sides agreed to the mediation attempt and they are hoping it is successful.


Alberta’s master agreement between doctors and the government outlines the relationship shared between the entities and covers compensation and working conditions.  This makes for a complex negotiation process and was complicated last year when the government decided to implement new policies, one of which affected the length of time a doctor is required to see a patient before he or she can charge extra.  In Canada, this is known as a complex modifier.


Government officials believe they have the power to make these changes, but the medical association believes they must be negotiated.  The deadline on the change was extended to accommodate the mediation attempt.


In addition to the issue involving the complex modifier, there is also dispute over double billing practices and billing practices regarding diagnostic imaging, as well as a cap that would dictate how many patients a doctor can see and bill for in a given day.  


Alberta currently pays $5.3 billion for doctors annually.


Premier Jason Kenney reassured the public that if the cost goes up, there is room to find savings in other places.