While communities are getting creative to pay tribute to health care workers during the pandemic, Alberta might be changing their pay structure. More than 800 Alberta doctors have signed an open letter urging Jason Kenney's government to pause health care changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes are set to take effect on Wednesday, April 1.
The letter is addressed to Alberta's Minister of Health, Tyler Shandro, and its Premier, Jason Kenney, and has received support from 845 doctors across the province.
Right off the bat, the letter mentions that the proposed changes set to take place on April 1 are "detrimental to our patients and the healthcare system."
The open letter continues to stress that now is not the time to "restructure the system," especially as COVID-19 "is spreading like wildfire."
The doctors went on to describe these adjustments as "harmful actions." They added that physicians and medical support staff are already operating with far fewer resources and well beyond their means.
More than 400 community clinics are shutting down or laying off their staff as a result of the cuts, according to the letter. "This will overburden and overwhelm community and inpatient physicians to provide services that put patients first."
"An abrupt pause ... must occur immediately to avoid burdening the doctors and negatively impacting" the patients, urges the letter.
Narcity has reached out to Jason Kenney's office for comment and we will update this story when we receive a response.
Since a lot of provincial services have moved online in light of social distancing protocols, the doctors are demanding that they get paid equal compensation for virtual consultations.
This would allow vital time "needed to reassure and address our patients' mounting critical needs."
Under the new systems, physicians will no longer be able to bill the province for overhead costs in Alberta Health Services facilities, according to CTV News.
The province is also limiting patient visits, to a maximum of 65 patients a day. Salary top-ups are being ended, which would discourage the recruitment of new physicians.
The letter concludes by saying that once the COVID-19 pandemic passes, the doctors are committing to securing the stability and financial feasibility of Alberta's health care system.
Before that, the Alberta doctors need support from the government if they are to "put out these wildfires."
CBC News explained that earlier in the month, the provincial government decided to axe some of their proposed changes to the health care system, including a measure that would result in doctors being paid less for longer-than-usual patient consultations.
A physician compensation advisory committee is also being set up by the government to inspect all areas of physician services funding.
This isn't the first group of health care workers from Alberta demanding that the government make changes. Some Edmonton nurses have also spoken out about how they require N95 masks to swab patients for COVID-19 tests.