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'A toxic situation': Majority of Alberta doctors vote no-confidence in Health Minister

Last Updated Jul 29, 2020 at 11:46 am MST

Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro holds a package of four non-medical masks that will be available to Albertans to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in Calgary, Alta., Friday, May 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Members of the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) have overwhelmingly voted no-confidence in Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

Two-thirds of members took part in the vote and 97 per cent said they didn’t have faith in Shandro.

The decision was made after a long-running dispute over the fee agreement for Alberta doctors imposed on them after contract talks failed.

“The level of lack trust in this Minister of Health for his behaviour, his lack of leadership, the directions he’s taken, the imposition on physicians, doing healthcare reform to us and not with us is unacceptable for physicians,” said AMA president Dr. Christin Molnar.

Molnar said their relationship with the government has never been this bad, and it stems back to Shandro walking away from contract negotiations and terminating an agreement earlier this year.

“Over the past year, Minister Shandro’s words and actions have created a chaotic state in our health care system and have alienated most of the people who are actually responsible for delivering care in Alberta. It’s a toxic situation and physicians have had enough.”

During a press conference on the end of the spring session Premier Kenney was asked about the vote and believes Shandro has done a great job as Minister of Health adding the government is responsible for all Albertans.

“Our government is accountable not to 10,800 people who belong to an interest group, we are accountable to 4.4 million Albertans who elected us with the largest democratic mandate in Alberta history. One element of that mandate is to get to a balanced budget by stopping massive increases in spending.”

Kenney added he fully supports the work that Alberta doctors do stating they are well compensated well above other provinces and increasing that compensation isn’t feesible.

“You’ve got a 20 per cent decline in the economy, you’ve got private-sector families seeing massive cuts in their income, public-sector families seeing flat incomes. But the most highly paid people in the public sector (have) seen a 23 per cent increase.”

“If we did not bring in a new physician compensation framework that stops these annual average pay increases of six per cent, we would see, Alberta Health estimates an icrease of $2 billion in physician compensation over the next three years and we simply don’t have the money.”

The AMA will use the results to appeal directly to Premier Jason Kenney to intervene or appoint an arbitrator.

However, Molnar doesn’t necessarily expect Premier Jason Kenney to fire Shandro as a result of the vote but is requesting a meeting with the Premier to discuss how they can move forward.