Rimbey doctors warn rural healthcare remains in danger

Without a formal agreement, rural healthcare remains in grave danger according to a group of doctors in Rimbey.

Six doctors in the community signed on to a letter to UCP Health Minster Tyler Shandro Thursday, warning that the crisis in rural healthcare would continue until the province returns to the negotiating table and reaches a binding agreement with the Alberta Medical Association.

“Due to the lack of stability for physicians without a formal agreement, we still stand to lose several local physicians,” the doctors wrote.

“The ongoing potential for turmoil is untenable for all Albertans, including physicians. Our ask for stability in the form of a negotiated or arbitrated agreement between the government and the AMA has not changed. Until this happens, rural healthcare in Alberta remains immediately threatened.”

NDP opposition Critic for health David Shepherd said that doctors don’t trust Shandro and is renewing calls for a three-point solution. That includes a plan to restore the previous contract on a temporary basis, begin independent arbitration to develop a new contract and repeal the elements of Bill 21 that allow the government to tear up any new agreement on a whim.

Shepherd added that solving the crisis also starts with “removing Tyler Shandro as minister of health”.

In addition to a $250 million lawsuit by AMA against the provincial government, Sheppard noted that Doctors in Stettler, Sundre, Rocky Mountain House, Canmore, Three Hills, Bragg Creek, Drayton Valley, Cold Lake and Lacombe have announced plans to leave their local hospital, close their practice, or leave Alberta altogether since Shandro tore up their contract.

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