Posted on Apr 1, 2020


EDMONTON -- Today, disgraced Health Minister Tyler Shandro imposed massive pay cuts and systemic upheavals onto Alberta doctors, disregarding pleas to simply pause his assault until the deadly coronavirus pandemic is contained.


“Doctors are risking their lives to protect Albertans during this global emergency,” said David Shepherd, NDP Opposition Critic for Health. “Across Canada and around the world, you can see people coming to their windows and balconies to cheer their heartfelt thanks for healthcare professionals. But in Alberta, Tyler Shandro is insulting them online, harassing them at their homes, and as of today, slashing their pay. He must resign.”


Alberta Medical Association President Dr. Christine Molnar met personally with Shandro on Friday to appeal personally for a delay. He refused. In a letter to doctors on Monday, she wrote “Somehow the physicians of Alberta have become the enemy of a government frustrated by its circumstance. During my 44 years of medicine, I have never seen anything like it. We have tried talking and reasoning with them. Some have tried yelling at them and shaming them. Others have just stopped trying or are on the verge of giving up.”


“It is clear that Shandro does not take this deadly pandemic seriously,” Shepherd said. “Any rational person would understand that now is the time to set aside his personal grudges, even temporarily, and let these professionals do their job, which is to save lives. It’s appalling that Alberta’s doctors must fight their own minister while also fighting a deadly pandemic. Shandro must resign.”


Here’s what Alberta doctors are saying today:


“Already physicians are leaving towns or cutting short hospital coverage,” said Dr. Matt McIsaac, of Banff. “Every cut has directly impacted rural physicians. The message from the government is clear: you and your patients are not important. Primary Health care is not important. These cuts could not come at a worse time.”


“It has obviously been very difficult to react and adjust to these billing changes while also planning and preparing for a pandemic,” said Dr. Jarritt Seeman of Innisfail. “In the long term though, we are concerned about our ability to continue to cover our emergency department and how it will affect our ability to continue to recruit new full-scope rural physicians.” 


"I have grave concerns regarding the path Minister Shandro and our government is taking with respect to managing our public health system in Alberta,” said Dr. Brad Unryn of Cochrane. “The unequal burden placed on rural physicians will decimate the towns and communities we live in, with the ultimate UCP goal of progressing to a 2-tiered health care system.”


“These decisions have been made completely unilaterally with absolutely no consideration of the consequences,” said Dr. Mario Anez of Grande Prairie. “This will result in increased visits to ER and increased referrals to specialists ultimately resulting in longer wait times for the patients to see specialists and more expenditure to the medical system. It is a sad time for Alberta’s healthcare.”