This article was updated 29 April 2021.
As part of their efforts to balance the budget in time for the next election year, especially after cutting corporate income taxes, the UCP government cut over $6 billion from health care funding.
As well, Tyler Shandro, the health minister, refused to negotiate with the Alberta Medical Association to develop a new contract with doctors in the province. Then he unilaterally cancelled their contract and all negotiations, forcing them to take significant wage cuts.
And now the AMA is suing the government.
However, not all doctors are responding to the disrespect with a lawsuit. Some are reducing the services they provide. Some are even leaving Alberta entirely.
According to the AMA, 400 clinics in Alberta are laying off support staff or considering closing. Here are some of them.
Someone messaged me on Twitter to tell me that their family doctor in Airdrie left her practice in April 2021.
In Athabasca, 9 doctors have indicated that they’re withdrawing hospital services.
At least 1 doctor in Bragg Creek is closing her practice. She will be leaving the province, citing a lack of feeling valued and supported by the government.
In a letter to the health minister, 85 emergency room doctors in Calgary expressed concern about the effect clinic closures will have on demand in their ERs.
This doctor reported on Twitter that she was moving to BC to practice:
Kate Bisby, a family physician in Calgary, sent me the following message:
A walk-in clinic in Calgary is losing a family doctor:
This family doctor closed his practice in June and is moving to Ontario in September. He specifically cites the environment created by the provincial government.
A doctor in Calgary has resigned from the South Health Campus in Calgary. He was working in obstetrics.
Two more family doctors have announced they’ve resigned and are leaving Alberta.
A family doctor in Calgary is leaving for BC (this physician maybe one of the two mentioned in the entry immediately above this one):
Another family doctor in Calgary announced she’s leaving Alberta, and specifically mentioned the government’s actions as the reason why:
A doctor in the Glenbrook Medical Clinic in Calgary is shutting down his family medicine practice with over 1,400 patients, citing the UCP government as the cause.
A family doctor at the Riley Park Primary Care Centre is closing her practice and moving to BC, citing the current government as a reason for the closure.
A family doctor at the Innovations Health Clinic in Calgary gave his resignation at the clinic in early November and plans to move to Victoria to practice.
A family doctor at the Britannia Medical Clinic announced on Twitter that he has filed his resignation.
A family doctor shut down her Calgary practice in early 2021 and moved to Toronto, according to the following tweet. You can also read more here.
A doctor in Canmore announced that she was relocating her medical practice to Calgary. She claimed fee cuts could run as high as 40% for some doctors in Alberta, which made it hard for her to manage her high overhead and deal with recruitment challenges.
A doctor in Chestermere is closing her practice October 2020.
A family doctor in Claresholm gave notice in May that she’d be closing her practice in July, citing bot recent government cuts and family commitments for her decision.
One clinic in Cochrane is closing down. At least one doctor from that clinic may be leaving the province, and the others will work out of other clinics in the short term.
On 15 April 2021, two more family doctors in Cochrane announced they’re shutting down their practice. They cite increased costs of running a clinical office.
5 days later, a letter was posted on Twitter from another Cochrane doctor, saying she plans to close her practice in the town as of 1 July 2021. She plans to explore practice opportunities outside of the province and specifically cited the “policies, hostilities, and destabilization of primary care by the Alberta UCP” as her reason.
Someone sent me this DM on Twitter to let me know that their family doctor in Cold Lake left in May 2020 to go to BC.
The only medical office in Crossfield will close its doors on 1 September 2020. They cited budget cuts as the reason.
Crowsnest Pass apparently lost 4 doctors.
A family doctor in Drayton Valley will be closing his practice in December 2020 and moving to BC.
Someone sent me this DM on Twitter to let me know of a family doctor in Drumheller who closed his practice on 21 April 2021 to move to BC.
A surgeon and his colleagues in Edmonton will be shutting down the clinic they run at Grey Nuns Community Hospital.
A paediatric clinic in Edmonton claims that newly introduced patient caps means that they will need to send some patients to the emergency room—instead of the clinic—for service.
A family doctor in Edmonton moved to the Yukon.
Two specialists who work at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton are taking a paycut to move to BC.
4 more specialists are leaving Royal Alexandria Hospital for BC:
A family doctor at the Southside primary Care Network is retiring.
A family doctor at the Lessard Medical Clinic is moving to Ontario.
According to a reader, the community of Fairview lost a doctor in the autumn of 2020 and another doctor will be retiring soon, which will leave the community with only 2 doctors.
A family physician in Grande Prairie says she’s leaving Alberta after 31 August.
A family doctor closed her practice in Heritage Pointe on 15 July.
A reader contacted me to let me know that their family doctor in Innisfail recently closed his clinic. The old other clinic in the community had a waiting list, requiring people needing care to travel nearly an hour to see another doctor.
Lac La Biche
In Lac La Biche, 10 of the 11 doctors there filed a letter of resignation with provincial and local healthcare officials saying that they wouldn’t be practicing at the local hospital after 31 July 2020. One of the doctors is the hospital’s chief of staff and managing doctor. They cited government funding changes as the cause for their resignation, saying that the cuts amount to eliminating a third of their salary.
A rural family practice in Lacombe laid off 13 employees, citing government cuts to health care. This clinic had a partner resign, and lost two locums who were going to fill in for sabbaticals next year. The locums, recent Alberta residency grads, have decided to move to BC instead.
A doctor in Leduc is shutting down his family medicine clinic and opening a geriatrics practice, citing the provincial government as the reason.
In a letter to the health minister, 22 emergency room doctors in Lethbridge expressed concern about the effect clinic closures will have on demand in their ERs. After-hours walk-in clinics in Lethbridge have closed.
In another letter to the health minister, 4 palliative care physicians in Lethbridge wrote that recent cuts will hinder their ability to travel to rural communities and will limit home visits.
A family doctor announced that he’s retiring in February 2021.
A maternity clinic may lose some of their 10 physicians. They cite fee changes as the reason they’re considering not practising at this clinic anymore.
In a letter to the health minister, 22 emergency room doctors in Medicine Hat expressed concern about the effect clinic closures will have on demand in their ERs.
In another letter to the health minister, 8 palliative care physicians in Medicine Hat wrote that recent cuts will hinder their ability to travel to rural communities and will limit home visits.
A family physician announced that he’s retiring early and cited the government’s treatment of doctors as the primary reason.
A family physician left Okotoks, citing unsustainable overhead costs . Two others are considering leaving Alberta.
An oby/gyn in Okotoks is resigning 1 December 2020 and moving to BC..
A clinic in Peace River has stopped providing family medicine. The other clinic in the town has a waiting list of over 800 patients.
The Associate Clinic in Pincher Creek announced that 9 doctors there were discontinuing hospital-based services as of July.
A doctor at the Battle River Medical Clinic in Ponoka announced yesterday that she’s leaving her practice at the end of June. She didn’t cite the recent cuts as the reason for her leaving—saying that “an opportunity came up to do this training and the timing felt right”—however, she was one of hundreds of doctors last month who signed a letter asking for Jason Kenney to reverse funding cuts.
A second doctor announced that he’s shutting down his practice to move out of province.
Another family doctor at Battle River Medical Clinic announced he’s closing his practice December 2020.
A doctor who was going to move to Ponoka from the US changed his mind, specifically blaming the UCP.
Another family doctor at Battle River announced in December that he’s closing his practice.
A Red Deer doctor is leaving his practice to work in British Columbia. He also cited the provincial cuts.
A Red Deer surgeon is moving to British Columbia.
A family physician at Horizon Family Medicine sent the following email to her patients, saying that she’s shutting down her practice and leaving the province and cited UCP policies as the reason:
In Rimbey, 2 of the 6 doctors there announced that they plan to leave the province once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. One of the doctors said the last straw was the cuts to after-hours hospital fees. Previously, he was paid $38.03 for each of the 20–30 patients he saw during a 24-hour shift. That works out to about $31.69 an hour. The new fees are $31 per patient, which works out to about $25.83 an hour. He also cites reduction in insurance reimbursements as a reason for leaving, which used to cover most of the more than $8,000 he had to pay annually. The other doctor, who was trying to build up her clinic into a full scope rural practice, cited the changes to the complex modifier, which allowed doctors to spend more time with patients in an effort to adequately address their health challenges, particularly if they had multiple issues concurrently. Three other Rimbey doctors are considering leaving.
Rocky Mountain House
Rocky Medical Clinic will require patients with multiple issues to come in for multiple appointments, due to changes to complex patient changes. This clinic is short 4 family physicians, but that number will increase to 6 by the end of the year due to retirements; one of those retirements is a direct response to the government budget cuts.
As well, 7 physicians at Rocky Medical Clinic have given their notice to Alberta Health Services that after 90 days, they will no longer be working at the hospital.
A family physician in Sherwood Park announced that he’s closing his practice March 2021.
Another family doctor is leaving Sherwood Park in March 2020. In fact, he’s leaving Alberta.
Some doctors in St. Paul plan to pull out of emergency room service, and some clinics will close.
In September, 4 doctors resigned; however they claimed this resignation was specifically because of Alberta Health Services, and not about the UCP government, even though AHS is funded by the government and overseen by the government’s ministry of health.
Stettler saw 7 physicians there, who work at two clinics in town—Stettler Medical Clinic and Heartland Medical Clinic—say that because of the government cuts, they could no longer afford to practice in the emergency room at the local hospital. There are only 10 physicians in the town.
A family doctor in Stony Plain left Alberta to practice in the Yukon. She also practiced in Spruce Grove.
Another family doctor said that he’s retiring as of July 2021, but was unable to find any doctors to take over his practice, so he is shutting his practice.
A family doctor in Spruce Grove will be retiring at the end of August 2020.
Another family doctor in the community is leaving.
Because of the changes to insurance I covered above, none of the physicians practicing in Sundre are insured for obstetrical services at Sundre Hospital. A family medicine resident from the University of Alberta, who was supposed to train in Sundre has to look for other options because of the closure of services.
Eight doctors at the Moose & Squirrel Medical Clinic in Sundre cancelled not only obstetrical services but also acute care and emergency department services at the Sundre hospital.
In April 2021, I received a DM from a reader updating me on these 8, indicating that 5 of them have completely left their practices in the community, 3 of them moving to BC.
Eight additional doctors at Sundre Hospital and Care Centre have resigned.
A family doctor at the Kneehill Medical Clinic in Three Hills is closing his practice at the end of June.
According to one report on Twitter, 4 doctors have left the community of Wabasca.
At least one doctor in Wainwright is shutting down their practice, also citing government actions as their rationale.
Several doctors has withdrawn his privileges from the Westlock Hospital and went on to imply that they might be leaving Alberta, as well.
Someone reached out to me in a Twitter DM that they’re doctor in Whitecourt recently left his practice there. According to my source, the doctor cited actions of the UCP government for his decision to leave his practice.
In addition to all the vacancies these closings will create, for the first time in Alberta’s history, it has over 20 residency positions open.
Finally, the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association tweeted out a press release yesterday, saying that out of 300 rural doctors recently surveyed, 47% said that they’ve “been forced to decrease their hospital-based services by July”, with more indicating they’d likely need to do so beyond July.
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