Alberta Medical Association

Alberta Medical Association

September 27, 2007 12:00 ET

AMA Calls for Clarity in Bill 1: Draft Lobbyist Legislation Could Impair Day-To-Day Functioning, Effectiveness

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Sept. 27, 2007) - In a presentation to the all-party Standing Committee on Government Services this morning, Alberta Medical Association (AMA) President-Elect Dr. Darryl D. LaBuick expressed major concerns about how Bill 1, the Lobbyists Act, could impact the AMA's organizational effectiveness and efficiency.

"As the Alberta Medical Association stated in our August 8 brief, this legislation needs clarity," said Dr. LaBuick. "To be accountable and transparent, all regulations, definitions, criteria, interpretations, applications, etc., associated with Bill 1 must be released prior to third reading. The public and organizations affected deserve to know precisely what is intended with and by this legislation."

He identified three major areas of concern for the AMA:

First, considerable daily contact occurs between AMA staff and those of Alberta Health and Wellness (AHW) due to the AMA's role in implementing the 2003-11 trilateral master agreement between AHW, the AMA and Alberta's regional health authorities. These activities should be exempted from the legislation because of the severe administrative workload it would impose.

Second, Dr. LaBuick pointed out that the AMA has a role in advocating for a well-funded public health care system with timely access and quality care that puts Patients First®. It is unclear how much of this activity would be subject to the provisions of Bill 1.

It is equally unclear how the definition of "organization lobbyist" will apply to the 10-member Board of Directors, three officers, 116 delegates of the AMA governing body Representative Forum and presidents/executive officers of 38 sections (family physicians, rural physicians, all the specialties and a number of sub-specialties). Historically, the AMA has not policed activities that may be undertaken by section officers and Representative Forum delegates, but Bill 1 could create an onus to do so.

Finally, "grassroots communication" as defined by Bill 1 requires six-months' advance registration. "This type of advocacy is not secret, but rather the most public kind of lobbying that exists. It does not require advance notice - let alone six months," said Dr. LaBuick. "This merely creates an early warning system for government ministers and departments so that they can act to blunt or nullify the focus of any grassroots communication."

The AMA's brief is available at www.albertadoctors.org. Go to the Publications tab and choose President's Letter from the drop-down menu and see "AMA Comments on Bill 1."

Patients First® is a registered trademark of the Alberta Medical Association.

Contact Information

  • Alberta Medical Association
    Ronald A. Kustra , ABC
    Assistant Executive Director (Public Affairs)
    (780) 990-4271
    or
    Alberta Medical Association
    Shannon E. Rupnarain, MBA, ABC
    Director (Public Affairs)
    (780) 907-9003