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Shandro walks back pay cuts for Alberta doctors

Shandro reiterated throughout the press conference that the AMA was providing misinformation to Alberta physicians.

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In a shocking announcement Friday, Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro backed down on the Tory government’s pay cuts for physicians in rural Alberta.

The United Conservative government in Alberta terminated the contract with the Alberta Medical Association in January, after passing legislation that would allow them to do so in the October budget released in 2019.

“There is no contract with physicians,” Shandro said.

“After the physician funding framework was released February 20, those conversations that we had with the AMA did not talk about the issues – these came from our colleagues and conversations with rural Albertans – they were in a bit of a vacuum and did not come from the AMA.”

Physicians across the province of Alberta have taken an opposing position to the changes unilaterally enforced by the United Conservatives prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

These included changes to physician pay when doctors performed shifts in local hospitals, initially refusing to include pay for overhead costs at their clinics. The change resulted in a number of rural doctors opting out of hospital rotations due to the lack of pay.

“As of March 31st, the government has decided that the care we provide in hospital is worth less than that same care given in clinic — even though for us they are under the same roof. While it is rewarding to offer all the extended services we are able to in Pincher Creek, they do come at a cost. This work is what steals us away from our patients during office hours and our families on evenings and weekends,” physicians in Pincher Creek wrote in an open letter Wednesday.

Doctors at the Moose and Squirrel in Sundre tabled similar sentiments prompting a response from Sundre-Rimbey – Rocky Mountain House MLA and Minister of Environment and Parks, Jason Nixon.

“I would encourage them to continue to work through the process,” said Nixon, who is the MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre and the minister of Environment and Parks. “The place to deal with this is around the table. My view is that now is not the time, from both a pandemic perspective as well as from a financial perspective (to withdraw privileges).

“Now is not the time for division. Now is the time for all of us to work together to figure out how our province is going to get through this.”

The “division” came from the Tory government’s refusal to negotiate with the AMA, an organization who negotiates on behalf of Alberta doctors. The AMA is made up of physicians with a mission statement that stating “the AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.”

Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced Friday afternoon that rural physicians will continue to be paid for work done at local hospitals, in addition to their work in local clinics, and that medical insurance will continue to be partially covered by the Alberta government.

Rural clinics will be capped at $1,000 while urban clinics will see caps on clinic portions anywhere between $1,200 and $4,000.

“The intention was always to increase the nominal fee,” Shandro said, referring to the pay for hospital rotations for rural doctors.

“We heard that from our caucus colleagues as they met with us, to be able to come us with practical solutions, to be able to make sure that we have an action plan to deal with these issues.”

Shandro laid blame at the AMA for “not relaying information” appropriately to physicians.

“The misinformation they provided their members regarding insurance deductibles was incorrect,” Shandro said.

“Our number one concern is making sure rural Albertans receive care.”

Shandro said that while the government is willing to provide alternative models to provide a predictable or stable opportunity for rural physicians, he said the population is decreasing, but overhead for rural physicians is not.

Shandro reiterated that the AMA was providing misinformation to Alberta physicians.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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Conservatives remove Twitter ad after outrage

The ad was an attack on the Justin Trudeau government’s vaccine rollout across the country.

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Erin O’Toole has admitted the Conservative Party was behind a social media ad that drew howls of disgust.

He confirmed the party took down the ad at the height of the outcry.

Conservative ad

The ad was an attack on the Justin Trudeau government’s vaccine rollout across the country.

This week, in the latest setback, several provinces announced they were halting second injections of the AstraZeneca vaccine over fears of blood clots.

The ad showed people celebrating summer after having two shots of vaccine entitled “Two Dose Summer.”

That photo was placed atop of one called “Trudeau Summer” showing what appears to be a COVID-19 victim in rough shape in hospital.

“I didn’t think attack adds in Canada could go lower than the infamous Chrétien “face ad”…they may have just done so,” said a Twitter user identified as Red Moose.

“Long ago I reached the conclusion that the CPC doesn’t want the electorate to take them seriously. Why can’t Canada have a credible opposition?” said Wally Kibler.

“When this is all over and we are finally able to live a normal life remember that Erin O’Toole and his team mocked our collective efforts, as a society, with childish and mean attack ads in an effort to score a political point,” said Adam Bolt.

When question Friday, O’Toole didn’t say whether or not he personally approved the ad.

But he did say the tweet detracted the serious discussion about vaccine supply and reopening plans, which is why it was removed

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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BREAKING: CBC loses lawsuit against CPC for using clips in ads

The lawsuit alleged CBC clips used in CPC ads were “taken out of context and are edited and relied on to make partisan points for the benefit” of the party.

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The CBC has lost its lawsuit against the Conservative Party of Canada over its use of CBC material in ads during the 2019 federal election.

In October 2019, the CBC served notice it wanted the Conservative Party of Canada and its executive director, Dustin Van Vugt, to acknowledge the party “engaged in the unauthorized use of copyright-protected material.”

The lawsuit alleged CBC clips used in CPC ads were “taken out of context and are edited and relied on to make partisan points for the benefit” of the party.

The clips were taken from The National and from the “Power Panel” segment of Power and Politics.

“The CBC has not established that it has suffered some adverse impacts from the Respondents’ use of its Works in the ‘attack ads’, nor should such adverse impacts be assumed,” said the ruling by Federal Court Justice Michael L. Phelan.

“The CBC expresses concern that its material is being used in a non-partisan way which affects its journalistic integrity and damages its reputation for neutrality.

“There is no objective evidence of the likelihood of any reputational damage. After all the years of political coverage in multiple democracies, there was no evidence presented that a broadcaster’s segment disclosed in a partisan setting reflected adversely on the broadcaster.

“The role of the CBC itself has been a political topic. There may be situations in the future where the manner of use and distribution of CBC material may adversely affect the CBC – however, that is not the case here.

“Given the Court’s findings that the Respondents’ use of CBC copyrighted material was for an allowable purpose and was “fair dealing”, this matter must be dismissed with costs at the usual scale.”

The ruling delighted Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre.

“CBC was supposed to cover the Conservative Party fairly during the election. Instead, CBC was launching a failed lawsuit against the party. Today, CBC lost that lawsuit. They should apologize for launching it & reveal the legal bills they charged taxpayers,” he tweeted after the ruling.

“CBC sued to stop Conservatives from using footage showing Trudeau in a bad light. The state broadcaster was protecting Trudeau, not copyright. Remember that next time you see another glowing CBC story about the Prime Minister.”

You can read the courts full judgement here.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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NDP slam UCP for keeping Legislature closed

Speaker Nathan Cooper said the ongoing closure was because of “ongoing health concerns arising from the pandemic.”

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Alberta’s NDP is blasting the UCP government of Premier Jason Kenney for extending a shutdown of the legislature because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While millions of Albertans continue to go into work, Jason Kenney and his UCP MLAs are refusing to show up,” said NDP House Leader Christina Gray in a statement.

“We’re in the midst of a crisis and we have critical work to do.”

Debate in the house was set to resume Wednesday after an earlier shutdown, but the UCP pushed back the date until May 25.

Speaker Nathan Cooper said the continuing closure was because of “ongoing health concerns arising from the pandemic,” Cooper said in a memo.

“The opportunity for Members to vote virtually may be possible upon the resumption of the Spring Sitting the week of May 25th. To facilitate this, I will be hosting a number of training sessions next week. Further details will be provided to you on Friday.”

Earlier during the spring sitting, the province amended the standing orders to allow the option to adjourn the Assembly in response to public safety concerns.

The shutdown is in contradiction to what Kenney said in April.

“Millions of Albertans, thank God, still have jobs, show up every day and they expect us, their elected representatives, to do the same thing,” he said in the Legislature.

Kenney in April

The UCP Cabinet will continue to meet virtually and Legislative committees will also continue their work with MLAs participating remotely. 

If an emergency arises, MLAs can be called back.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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