The head of the Alberta Medical Association is asking the Health Minister to have a new deal drafted by the end of the year – although the province insists there’s no extra money to add.

The move came after the province announced last week that it was raising salaries for more than 8,200 – the changes include:

  • A one-time lump-sum payment of 2.5 percent to each physician, based on their billings in the 2011/2012 year
  • Annual increases, tied to the Cost of Living Adjustment over the next three years

According to the Canadian Institute of Health Information said Alberta doctors are paid, on average, more than doctors in all other provinces, and 29 percent higher than the national average

According to the President of the Alberta Medical Association, doctors did not respond well to the surprise announcement.

“I would say physician morale is low, and physicians are angry,” Dr. Michael Giuffre said in Calgary.

“I can tell you, all the e-mails I received, over 300 communications to me, within three hours of the imposition being served on Friday.”

Dr. Giuffre described the deal as short-changing doctors.

“When you break this down, in terms of the sources of those funds, and the placement of those funds, you will see that over a five year time frame it is a net decrease for physicians over that five year time-frame,” Dr. Giuffre said.

Now, the AMA is asking the province to return to the bargaining table – and have a different deal in writing by the end of the year.

If that isn’t possible, the association is asking for the government to commit to a dispute resolution process.

Some doctors are also raising the possibility of taking job action, the AMA said all options are on the table, but there is still time before the situation comes to that.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Fred Horne said the province can’t budge on compensation.

“The additional funding that we provided, the $463 million, it is in fact the most we have available,” Minister Horne said.

The government and the AMA have been negotiating a new deal for doctors, since their previous deal expired in March 2011 – they have come close to reaching a deal twice, but it failed each time.

With files from Brenna Rose