Labour Relations

Two recent developments on the labour front suggest that the provincial government does not intend to reduce wages in the public sector…yet. Custodians at Edmonton Public Schools received a new three-year contract.  The contract grants the 800 workers a 1.75 per cent increase effective 1 September 2016, a two per cent retroactive adjustment for 2015-16 and a $700 lump sum retroactive payment to September 2014.

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Last week, the provincial government concluded an agreement with the Alberta Medical Association.  According to the government’s news release, a “needs-based” Physician Resource Plan will place physicians where they are needed.  The agreement also is expected to “improve financial sustainability, quality of care, and access.”  Moreover, a new compensation model will be developed rewards time and quality of care given to patients, not just the services provided.  In addition, there will be “new physician peer review and accountability mechanisms; and the linking of certain benefits and compensation increases to performance on other cost-saving measures.”

Doctors are expected to vote on the agreement by mid-October. Obviously the devil is in the details. Earlier this summer, there was progress made on changes to the fee schedule to reflect current practice. Negotiations with medical doctors are always sensitive because they are the gatekeepers to the system and responsible for authorizing procedures and various tests. Since most doctors are paid according to the fee schedule, specialists are often in conflict with general practitioners over the division of the roughly $4.8 billion allocation to physicians in compensation and for development.

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