Letter to the editor - Banff doctor voices concerns

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Dear valued patients, families and community members,

I write this letter as I am disheartened by the way this provincial government handled negotiations with the Alberta Medical Association (AMA). Every day of the negotiations the AMA brought forward suggestions of pay cuts and cost reductions. For the forth day of negotiations the AMA had further suggestions of cuts. However the AMA never got to bring these suggestions forward, as the government cancelled negotiations via the media. The government then announced that they would go ahead with all of their own proposals. By doing this, they disregarded all input from the AMA. In addition to canceling our contract and thereby signaling that they did not feel they needed to honor our contract.

The AMA’s goal was to be a partner in how we make cuts to the health care system. It is deeply concerning when the government disregards the advice and input from the frontline workers.


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The current cuts will have the biggest impact on family physicians, and particularly those who practice in rural areas. Evidence shows that the best way to save money in a a health care system is to have strong family medicine/primary care. This means less people using more expensive options such as emergency room visits. So while the current cuts may give a short term reduction in health care expenses, they will not be long lasting, and in fact the costs are very likely going to increase in the long run. In addition simple economics dictate that if you lower the pay you will have a lower number of physicians. This will particularly affect the number of physicians working in smaller towns. Practically this means it will be harder to get a family physician, appointment times will be shorter and you will have to go back for multiple visits to address multiple concerns.

Beyond the health care system, I am concerned that this government will use the same strategy in negotiations with other public employees. I am concerned that making cuts without input from the people who work in the system will lead to higher costs in the long run. My hope with this letter is to create awareness, and hopefully some of you will consider writing our MLA or our ministers, and letting them know that we do not approve of the way they are achieving cuts. We expect them to engage in good-faith negotiations and we expect them to listen to the people working in our public services.


Mette Hoegh-Petersen
Family Physician, Banff

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