Posted on Apr 24, 2020


EDMONTON -- Today, Health Minister Tyler Shandro revealed his too-little, too-late response to the crisis in rural healthcare he created by ripping up the province’s contract with doctors.

Shandro walked back a small number of the cuts to doctor compensation he imposed on April 1, but did not restore the previous contract, or agree to independent third-party arbitration. He also failed to commit to repealing the legislation that allows him to tear up any future contract on a whim.

“I didn’t hear him admit any mistakes. I didn’t hear him accept any responsibility. And I didn’t see any doctors willing to stand beside him for his announcement. Instead, he called them liars. Tyler Shandro has knifed rural Albertans in the back and offered them a BandAid,” said David Shepherd, NDP Opposition Critic for Health.

Shandro’s press conference came after families in Stettler, Sundre, Lac La Biche, Rocky Mountain House, Rimbey, Canmore, Three Hills, Bragg Creek, Drayton Valley, Cold Lake, Lacombe and Pincher Creek have seen reduced access to a doctor. A recent survey of rural doctors suggests dozens more communities will get similar news in the days to come.

“Doctors are heroes,” Shepherd said. “They’re putting their lives on the line every day to keep us safe during this deadly pandemic. In contrast, Tyler Shandro showed up at a doctor’s house at night and yelled at him in front of his family. He inappropriately pressured AHS for doctors’ personal cell phone numbers so he could call them at night. He’s triggered a quarter-billion lawsuit from doctors against the province. And in the midst of his war with doctors, he launches a health app, after no consultation with doctors, and triggers an investigation from the privacy commissioner.

“I urge the Premier to remove him from his post, and I urge the government MLAs to take up our straight-forward plan to resolve this crisis in rural healthcare. Restore the previous contract on a temporary basis, begin independent arbitration to develop a new contract, and repeal the sections of Bill 21 that allow Tyler Shandro to tear up any current or future contract with doctors on a whim.

“Our opposition caucus is prepared to assist with moving this solution forward quickly, before any more doctors are forced to resign from their local hospital or close their family practice.”