Information about Government Advocacy (Why I'm upset with the UPC Government Right now).
Taking care of your child is – and always will be – my first priority. The health of your child, and your trust in me, is something that I and my Paediatric colleagues take VERY seriously. But right now, our health care system is under attack in ways we have never experienced before. Government has introduced funding changes that make it harder for Albertans to get the care they need.
There are things you need to know about how funding changes could impact Paediatric care in our province.
Services may change:
● The changes imposed by the UPC government regarding the Physician Funding Framework are forcing many physicians to rearrange how we offer patient services. We are having to look at how to do the most with what we have.
● A major change for my practice is the removal of something called Complex Modifiers. This means that the UPC government feels that a follow up visit should be completed in 10 mins and a first visit in 30 mins. This might be fine for simple problems (like a rash or a prescription refill). But my patient population is far from simple. Given that I see very complex children and families with numerous challenges, I think it's unfair to have to ask you to stop sharing your story or stop asking questions at the 10 min mark (for a follow up visit) or the 30 min mark (if I've never met your before) and tell you to rebook (when my wait list is already 6 months long).
● Community medical offices (like my own) are small businesses with the same types of expenses as other small Alberta businesses. The Physician Funding Framework changes threaten the viability of my business. On average, 40% of clinical fees are required to cover business expenses including staff, lease and insurance. Often when the government reports income, they are talking about gross income but that's not accurate of my net income. Also, Alberta's business expenses are higher than other provinces and have exceeded inflation in recent years. And cost for staff wages in Alberta are 16% higher than the national average.
● There is no doubt that we need to address physician funding in light of our province's economic challenges. That is why it is important that physicians work with the government to make decisions that will not impact patient care. Myself and my colleagues offered to take a pay cut and the government rejected that offer and then violated the charter rights of all Alberta physicians by simply terminating our contract in April 2020 (right as the pandemic was ramping up)! It is essential that decisions about how physicians are paid are made in collaboration with physicians and the Alberta Medical Assocation (AMA). I want the government to go back to the negotiation table to reach a fair agreement that works for everyone.
Alberta’s children are being impacted from multiple angles:
● Along with cuts to physician funding, this government has also reduced or eliminated funding for a range of essential programs such as:
o Program Unit Funding (PUF) for Preschool Children with Special Needs.
o Preschool Speech and Language Program.
o Regional Collaborative Services Delivery (RCSD).
● Without these early interventions, vulnerable children are at higher risk of school drop-out, social isolation and mental health problems including anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
● It is morally and ethically wrong to limit services to children in need.
What does this mean for you and your children?
● Alberta’s children will have reduced access to the Paediatric care they need.
● Children will wait longer to be seen in clinics in the community, in ambulatory clinics at the hospital and overburdened emergency rooms.
● Children will wait longer for tests and for diagnosis.
● If you live in communities where hospital-based pediatric services are no longer available, you will have to travel to the city to get the care you need.
What can you do?
● Get involved. Share your stories. Tell other Albertans about what’s at stake.
● Demand that the government work with the AMA to reach a negotiated agreement that will return stability to our health care system.
● Write your MLA, the Minister of Health and the Premier, and tell them that Alberta’s children deserve better. The AMA has created a campaign that invites Albertans to tell the Government of Alberta that it’s time to put Patients First®. You can find a template letter at patientsfirst.ca, or you can write your own letter.
● Join groups and organizations that are raising awareness and advocating for Alberta’s children.
● Tell your elected officials that any changes to how services for children are funded must include input from people that actually understand the needs of children – Parents like you, Teachers, Social Workers, Paediatricians and Family Physicians.
Your children deserve better
Children are our most vulnerable citizens and they rely on us to help protect their future and their health. We believe it is morally and ethically wrong to limit services to children in need.
Suite 109, 10333 Southport Road SW
Calgary, Alberta T2W 3X6