Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping and Alberta Medical Association Dr. Vesta Michelle Warren announced a new four-year deal for doctors at a news conference at Red Deer's Cambridge Hotel and Convention Centre on Thursday morning. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)

Alberta government and doctors agree to four-year deal

Deal provides average pay increase of four per cent over four years

Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping announced a new four-year deal with doctors that will boost their pay an average of four per cent at a news conference in Red Deer on Thursday morning.

There will be larger average increases for specialties facing greater pressures such as family medicine, which will see an average effective increase of 5.25 per cent when the value of other investments are factored in, said Copping, who was joined by Alberta Medical Association president Dr. Vesta Michelle Warren at the Cambridge Hotel and Convention Centre.

“I am very pleased that physicians support this new agreement,” said Copping in a statement. “It will stabilize the health system, target areas of concern and support Albertans’ health-care needs.

“With its significant investments, this agreement will provide a path forward to address the challenges facing the health system and issues brought forward by physicians.”

Warren said the deal is “good for physicians, patients and the health-care system.

“It will allow physicians to contribute to decision-making and provide expertise on what matters for patients. It provides increases in line with other settlements, valuable programs, business cost support, fair processes for working together on compensation or other matters and ways to resolve disputes.”

Warren added that the agreement “will help stabilize physician practices that are struggling with rising costs. Stability is critical to retain and attract physicians. There is hard work ahead, but we look forward to rebuilding the relationship with government and seeking solutions through collaboration.”

About 70 per cent of physicians voted in favour of the agreement, which covers four fiscal years, from April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2026.

It provides a one per cent increase in each of the first three years up to 2024-25, including a one per cent “recognition lump sum payment” in 2022-23.

The first three years of the agreement provide rate stability, with no market corrections for above or below market rates. Year four (2025-26) will involve:

• Implementation of results from a comprehensive market rate review based on comparisons with Ontario-west jurisdictions.

• A global rate adjustment to reflect general economic and fiscal conditions.

• Potential binding arbitration for both the market rate review and global rate adjustment.

• Gainsharing in years three and four where the AMA can receive 50 per cent of any savings achieved by keeping cost growth below population and complexity.