Alberta introduces bill affecting pay rules for doctors, public-sector workers

EDMONTON – Alberta is proposing new legislation that could affect where doctors work and how much they get paid as well as allow the government more freedom to bring in replacement workers for union jobs.

The amendments are contained in one of two omnibus bills introduced by Finance Minister Travis Toews.

The bill proposes that the government be allowed to cancel its master agreement with the Alberta Medical Association and give the province power to compel new doctors wanting to bill the health system to work in rural areas.

Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservative government is looking to find savings to meet a commitment to end Alberta’s multibillion-dollar budget deficits by 2023.

The government is relying on a recent panel report that said Alberta’s doctors are making far more than other provinces and that the main barrier to pay reform is the master agreement.

The bill also gives the government the option to bring in replacement workers to fill essential services during contract negotiations.