Lacombe Councillor Chris Ross is hoping council will pen a letter to the province expressing support for local doctors.
Ross made the motion, which reads, “That council direct administration to send a letter to Lacombe area doctors (cc’d to Ron Orr, MLA, and the Honourable Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health), identifying the high value our community places on their services, and Council’s support as they continue to negotiate with the provincial government”.
Ross decided to make the motion after attending a town hall before the quarantine which outlined concerns local physicians had in relation to negotiations between the Alberta Medical Association and the UCP Government of Alberta.
At that meeting, local physicians outlined that many of them may not be able to continue to afford to work in the province of Alberta due to proposed changes to complex modifiers and other issues. Those negotiations have been put on hold while the province grapples with COVID-19. Complex modifiers involve how doctors bill the province for time spent with patients and on whether multiple issues are presented by patients.
Ross said he is concerned about attraction and retention of physicians in rural Alberta.
“Rural Alberta would be devastated if Alberta was no longer an attractive option for doctors,” he said.
Ross feels the proposed changes by the province could lead to a risk of Lacombe losing some of their doctors due to their income being drastically changed.
“I think there were negotiations that were not done in fair practice. I think the doctors knew the UCP government was going to review efficiencies but it went far beyond efficiencies,” he said.
Ross said the letter proposed is a way to show confidence in Lacombe’s physicians and also bring more awareness of the issue to Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr, the Minister of Health Tyler Shandro and Premier Jason Kenney.
Ross added he didn’t know Orr’s schedule at the time but the event was a pretty significant gathering for the local MLA not to attend.
“I think citizens were disapointed in his lack of attendance. Right or wrong, whatever the situation is, whether you are a councillor, MLA or MP — you have to address those issues whether they put you in the position of defending the official position or not,” Ross said.
Ultimately, Ross believes Lacombe stands to lose doctors if the Government of Alberta pursues this policy.
“Alberta is attractive right now, particular for foreign doctors. I think these changes would deter that,” he said.
The motion to send the letter will be discussed in council during their April 27 meeting. Ross hopes council will approve the motion allowing the city to be a strong voice for Lacombe’s local physicians.