Posted on May 8, 2020


EDMONTON - Six doctors in Rimbey signed a letter yesterday informing UCP Health Minister Tyler Shandro that the crisis he started in rural healthcare would continue until the province returns to the table and reaches a binding agreement with the Alberta Medical Association.

“Due to the lack of stability for physicians without a formal agreement, we still stand to lose several local physicians,” the doctors wrote. “The ongoing potential for turmoil is untenable for all Albertans, including physicians. Our ask for stability in the form of a negotiated or arbitrated agreement between the government and the AMA has not changed. Until this happens, rural healthcare in Alberta remains immediately threatened.”

The Rimbey letter comes only two days after doctors in Taber wrote a scathing opinion piece in their local newspaper, in which they compare Shandro to a bank robber who wants to be praised for returning a portion of the money he stole. 

Doctors in Stettler, Sundre, Rocky Mountain House, Canmore, Three Hills, Bragg Creek, Drayton Valley, Cold Lake and Lacombe have announced plans to leave their local hospital, close their practice, or leave Alberta altogether since Shandro tore up their contract. The AMA has also launched a $250-million lawsuit against the provincial government.

“Doctors have been completely clear that this is primarily an issue of trust,” said David Shepherd, NDP Opposition Critic for Health. “They can’t trust someone like Tyler Shandro, who behaves so erratically and fails to learn from his mistakes or even accept responsibility for them. Why would anyone agree to operate a small business in that kind of environment?”

The opposition renews its call for a simple three-point solution: restore the previous contract on a temporary basis, begin independent arbitration to develop a new contract, and repeal the elements of Bill 21 that allow the government to tear up any new agreement on a whim.

“Solving the rural healthcare crisis starts with removing Tyler Shandro as minister of health,” Shepherd said.