EDMONTON -- Hundreds of Alberta doctors are pleading for the province to put restructuring plans on hold as Albertans deal with COVID-19.

The group sent a letter Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro on March 30.

"These are unprecedented times that require extraordinary support and flexibility for clinical care," the letter reads. "Doctors cannot afford any distractions during this time where we are counted on to perform to the best of our capabilities."

The group is calling for an "abrupt pause" to healthcare changes in order to support patients and to help stabilize Alberta's healthcare system.

Dr. Kelly MacGregor is among those who signed the letter. The family physician says doctors are committed to ensuring the financial feasibility of the system once the pandemic has passed.

“Right now, in the midst of this …we need to stop these changes so we can keep doing what we’ve always done," she said.

“Why are we making sweeping changes to a system that is truly one of the best health care systems in the world?" 

Health Minister Shandro responded to the letter in a statement to CTV News Edmonton.

“Our government will provide whatever resources are needed to protect Albertans in the pandemic," the statement reads. "My door is open to any concrete, specific proposal to support physicians and patients in the emergency and going forward.”

The health minister's office also highlighted the recent decision to make virtual visits available to all physicians, minimizing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and paid out at the same rate as office visits.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Dan Grummett