AUPE head slams contract imposed on doctors

The president of the Alberta Union of Public Employees has slammed the provincial government for imposing a one-year contract on the province’s doctors. Guy Smith says it’s not how you restore a relationship with doctors who already feel politically intimidated.

EDMONTON — The president of the Alberta Union of Public Employees has slammed the provincial government for imposing a one-year contract on the province’s doctors.

Guy Smith says it’s not how you restore a relationship with doctors who already feel politically intimidated.

He says the province should be trying to rebuild trust with Alberta’s physicians, “not railroading them with an undemocratic pay scheme.”

Alberta’s 6,500 doctors have been working under a contract extension since negotiations between the doctors and the province broke down last summer.

On Monday, Health Minister Fred Horne sent a letter to doctors advising them of the one-year agreement, citing the need for stability.

Horne says while talks with doctors have been constructive, it became clear that a short-term agreement would be unlikely.

“We want the system to function in a stable and predictable way,” Horne said.

“I’m hoping that it will send a signal to our doctors that they know we value them that we respect the work they do and we are committed to supporting them.”

But Smith said it’s the wrong way to go about it.

“If the province wants to fix ER wait times and doctor shortages, they need to treat physicians and all health care employees as partners. I fully support Alberta’s doctors pursuit of a fair agreement with the province, with the AMA serving its longstanding, traditional role as the physicians’ bargaining agent.”

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