A local family physician says problems between doctors and the provincial government continue to rage on. Dr. Brianne Hudson points to a recent survey conducted by the Alberta Medical Association which indicates 98 per cent of doctors within the province do not have confidence in Health Minister Tyler Shandro.
Hudson says tensions began with the passing of Bill 21, under which physician contracts with the government were unilaterally torn up.
“There have been repeated bills passed and actions by Health Minister Shandro in particular, as well as by Jason Kenney’s government that has antagonized physicians— during the COVID-19 pandemic no less,” she says.
“At this point, the AMA is suing the Alberta Government and so far there have been repeated attempts to get back to the negotiations table with the government and it has been prolonged since 2019.”
Just shy of 9,000 physicians and students submitted to the AMA’s poll, representing two-thirds of the target demographic in the province. Hudson says it’s highly unusual for physicians to take part in similar polls.
“Typically the voter turnout rate would be far less than it was for this vote so this is something that physicians across the province feel very passionately about,” she says.
“This is something that I think Albertans need to take very seriously. Physicians are an integral part of the health care system, and if 98 per cent of physicians do not have confidence in the Health Minister, I think Premier Kenney needs to take action.”
Hudson adds that though the province insists there is not a shortage of physicians in the province, there are 170 postings calling for practitioners to be brought into Alberta from abroad. Further, many who are currently practising in Alberta are considering simply uprooting and leaving before the situation gets any worse.
“There’s real uncertainty, there’s a tremendous lack of trust and so a lot of physicians are starting to question how they’re going to continue to practise in this environment,” she says.
“There are already a number of physicians who have decided to leave the province and so if things do not improve that number will simply increase… On some level, the government must recognize that physician shortage due to these political decisions could worsen.”
Results of the conference vote referendum have been posted online.