Call

Are there any rules about when a service has to notify resident physicians of the on-call schedule?

According to the Resident Physician Agreement, resident physicians should receive or have access to the call schedule a week before the rotation begins, although updates can be made to the schedule at any time. It should be noted that many programs create schedules more than a week in advance but it really depends on the service.

Do resident physicians get a day in lieu if their call shift starts the day before a named holiday and ends on the named holiday?

Resident physicians do not get a day in lieu if their call shift extends into a Named holiday – only if it starts on a Named Holiday.

In recognition of working into Named Holidays, all Resident Physicians are entitled to four (4) flex days off each Appointment Year without loss of pay. These flex days are not part of the vacation entitlement. Flex days do not carry forward.

For the purposes of ensuring that resident physicians do not work more than 2 weekends per block or 3 weekends in a 5-weekend block, what constitutes a weekend?

  • Friday nights
  • Saturday & Sunday
  • Named holidays

While Friday nights are considered a part of the weekend for scheduling purposes, call shifts that commence on Friday are remunerated at the weekday rate. Only call shifts commencing on Saturday, Sunday, or a Named Holiday are remunerated at the weekend rate.

Since call maximums are determined by days on service during a block, what constitutes an off-service day?

Off service days not to be included in call maximum calculations include any time the resident physician is away on vacation (inclusive of the weekend prior to or following scheduled vacation as per Article 20.05), Maternity/Parental Leave, Educational Leave, Exam Leave, Special Leave, Compassionate Leave, Bereavement Leave, and Sick Leave.

Days that are NOT considered off service include named holidays, flex days, winter break, float days, and academic half (or full) days. These days are considered ‘on service’ for call maximum calculations.

What is a switched call stipend? (S – Edmonton time sheets, S – Calgary time sheets)

Switched call stipend is paid for a scheduled home call shift during which a resident physician has spent at least four hours of the call shift in hospital and at least one of these hours is after midnight and before 6 a.m. OR more than six (6) hours in hospital during the call period.

Switched call stipend is paid at the rate of in-house call, but counted as home call when determining call frequency maximums; it is designated as an “s” on on-call time sheets.

To be eligible for the post-call day the individual would need to work after midnight. This post call day is not guaranteed (like in-house call) but needs to be requested.

Call Stipends

Do I receive stipends while on elective?

Resident physicians on an out-of-region elective may claim on-call stipends if the following conditions are met:

  • The site that the resident physician is visiting is affiliated with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, or the College of Family Physicians of Canada, and their home university.
  • The site must be in Canada.
  • The elective is an education component that is supported by the program.

Exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis if the required educational component is not offered at a site with affiliations. Paperwork required will be at the discretion of the resident physician’s home program. 

For an acceptable elective, resident physicians need to bring their elective call schedule to their home program, preferably with the signature of a supervisor to verify that the schedule is accurate. The program administrator or individual normally responsible for submitting the timesheet for the home program would then submit a new timesheet labeled with the location of the elective (“Yellowknife Rotation” for instance).

It should be noted that receiving stipends while on out-of-province electives is not guaranteed. It is up to the program to submit the call timesheet and advocate for the resident physician.

For the purposes of determining weekend home and in-house call stipends, what days make up a weekend?

  • Saturday & Sunday
  • Named holidays
  • Shifts must START on these days

How do I get my stipend payments?

An individual, usually the program administrator or chief resident physician, is responsible for submitting the call timesheet to AHS from each program. Resident physicians should contact this person to find out what they need to ensure your call is properly recorded.

If I haven’t been paid or my stipends are incorrect, what should I do?

Check with the program where you performed the call to see if the call time sheet was correct and submitted on time to AHS. If call sheets were not submitted on time, stipends will be paid out on the next payout date.

If you contact AHS or PARA, ensure you include the block and service, the dates of your call, and the type of call you performed (home call, switched call, in-house call).

University of Calgary
Contact the PARA office for the U of C contact name and email

University of Alberta
Email: OnCallStipends@ahs.ca

Robin Raworth PARA
Phone: (780) 432-1749
Email: robin.raworth@para-ab.ca

Exam Leave

How early do I need to apply for exam leave or study leave? (See Article 10.01(a) and 13.03(b))

Applications for exam leaves shall be made in writing to the Program Director a minimum of twenty- eight (28) days in advance of the exam date to ensure appropriate service coverage.

Applications for study leave shall be made in writing to the Program Director a minimum of twenty-eight (28) of the block of the requested leave to ensure appropriate service coverage.

Applications shall indicate the date of departure on leave and the date of return. Confirmation of the leave shall be made by the Program Director within fourteen (14) days of the initial request.

How many study days do I have to prepare for the exam? (See Article 13.03)

A Resident Physician will be granted up to five (5) non-consecutive days off during the eight (8) weeks preceding the Exam Leave. These non-consecutive days off will be standard or shift-based duty hours days. At the discretion of the Program Director, some of these days may be taken consecutively.

How many working days do I receive off for exam writing? (see Article 13.01 & 13.02)

You are entitled to up to five (5) consecutive days without loss of pay to write each Canadian qualifying and licensing examination component, which include those of the Medical Council of Canada, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

  • the day prior to outbound travel,
  • the day of outbound travel,
  • one (1) or two (2) days as required to attend the actual examination, and
  • one (1) day for return travel.

If travel is not required for writing the exam resident physicians are entitled to up to three (3) consecutive days without loss of pay to write each Canadian qualifying and licensing examination component, which include those of the Medical Council of Canada, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

  • the day prior to the examination,
  • one (1) or two (2) days as required to attend the actual examination.

Subject to patient care considerations and at the request of the Resident Physician, a Resident Physician will not be scheduled for on-call duty in the period seventy-two (72) hours prior to the Exam Leave described in Article 13.01. In addition, Resident Physicians shall work only Standard Duty Hours (i.e. no more than twelve (12) hours per day) during this period.

Maternity and Parental Leave

Am I eligible for Employment Insurance Maternity/Parental Benefits?

You must be a birth mother or father or adoptive parent and have accumulated 600 insured working hours within the last 52 weeks or since your last claim. For purposes of calculating insured working hours, AHS records resident physicians hours at 40 hours per week.

If you are in your first year of residency and have not yet accumulated 600 hours, you may still be eligible if you have insured working hours from another source/employer. You will need to check with Service Canada to see if you are eligible.

Are there any considerations that I need to take into account when applying for a waiver of training at the end of my A: training because of my time away for maternity leave?

Training because of my time away for maternity leave? Each university has their own waiver of training policy which can be found on its Postgraduate Medical Education website. When considering your waiver of training applications, keep in mind that the criteria for writing certification exams in Canada and the United States are different; if you are planning to write the American exam, you will need to ensure that, with your waiver of training, your length of training still meets the eligibility requirements for writing the exam.

Can I cancel my CMPA coverage during my maternity leave?

Yes. While you are on leave, you are not able to work as a resident physician (or an extender) because you are not actively in residency training. So, you should contact the CMPA to cancel your membership for the period of time that you are not working. Call 1 (800) 267-6522 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. EST or check out www.cmpa-acpm.ca.

Can I make claims from my flexible spending account during my maternity leave?

Yes, PARA members can access their flexible spending account while on maternity leave. This benefit is not contingent on a resident physician opting in to their health and dental coverage.

Do my health and dental benefits continue during my maternity leave?

No, cost sharing of your health and dental coverage does not continue during your maternity leave. A resident physician has the option of continuing the Supplementary Health and Dental benefits coverage by submitting the “Benefits Coverage During Leaves of Absence” form that is included in the Maternity Package you receive from AHS Benefits three months before your expected due date. This form must be submitted to Benefits prior to the start of your maternity leave. If you do opt into your health and dental benefits, you will be responsible for paying 100% of the health and dental benefit premiums.

Does my life and long-term disability coverage continue during my maternity leave?

Yes, PARA ensures that your life and long-term disability coverage continues while you are on maternity leave by covering the cost of your benefit in full. No additional paperwork is required from PARA members.

How can I obtain a Record of Employment from Alberta Health Services?

Ensure that your program has submitted a Leave of Absence form to the Postgraduate Medical Education office. The AHS Benefits Service Centre, upon receiving this information from PME, will process your LOA during your final week of earnings. A Record of Employment (ROE) will then be issued by the AHS Payroll department following the payment of your final earnings. Your ROE will be sent electronically to Service Canada. Once ROE is uploaded to Service Canada Web page, you should be able to log into your Service Canada account and download the copy for your records.

If you are on sick leave prior to the birth of your baby, please call the Benefits Service Centre to advise them of the date you delivered your baby and when your last day of paid sick time is. Your ROE will then be processed as described above.

If you do not have your ROE one week after the start of your maternity leave, you should contact:

University of Alberta
HR Contact Centre at 1-(877) 511-4455

University of Calgary
Medical Education Office at (403) 943-1253.

How much time can I take for maternity leave? (see Article 11.04)

Birth mothers may take up to 78 consecutive weeks of job-protected leave. However, it is important to realize that not all of this leave is considered maternity leave.

Maternity leave is for up to 17 weeks of the total leave time. It is this time that is eligible for the “top- up” payment to ensure that the resident physician receives 90% of her salary when combined with the EI benefits paid during this time.

After 17 weeks, the mother is eligible to take up to another 61 weeks of unpaid parental leave during the first 78 weeks following the birth of a child.

I’m returning to work - who do I talk to about requesting a space to breastfeed?

It is AHS’ responsibility to provide a private space for you to breastfeed; however, you will need to contact AHS prior to returning to work to request that they locate a space for you.

You will need to fill out a ‘Request for Accommodations’ form, which can be found on the AHS website. Once there, search for “Employee Request for Accommodation”, and it will be the first available option.

If I don’t receive a Maternity Package from Benefits three months before my expected due date, what should I do?

University of Alberta resident physicians should contact HR Contact Centre at 1 (877) 511-4455

University of Calgary resident physicians should contact Wendy Mitchell in the Medical Education Office at (587) 774-7467.

Make sure your program has informed PGME of your maternity leave.

Maternity and Parental Benefits (Employment Insurance)

Maternity benefits are up to 15 weeks. Maternity benefits are only available to the person who is away from work because they’re pregnant or have recently given birth. They cannot be shared between parents.

Birth mothers may receive the following benefits:

  1. Standard parental leave
    • up to 35 weeks (in addition to maternity leave of 15 weeks) for a total of 50 weeks of benefits at 55% of salary to maximum of $595 weekly
  2. Extended parental leave
    • up to 61 weeks (in addition to maternity leave of 15 weeks) for a total of 76 weeks of benefits at 33% of salary to maximum of $357 weekly

EI Maternity and Parental Benefits

What happens if I can’t work prior to the onset of my maternity leave?

You may be eligible for paid Sick Leave prior to your maternity leave. In such cases, be prepared to provide a doctor’s note and advise your Program Director that you require paid sick time. Please ask your program to provide written notification to AHS Human Resources confirming the date on which your medical leave started.

What is the PARA maternity top-up benefit?

The PARA maternity top-up benefit tops up your employment insurance maternity benefits for 17 weeks (2 weeks at 90% of salary to represent the EI waiting period and 15 weeks at a rate that when added to your EI payments equals 90%). You are required to fill in a Supplementary (Un)Employment Benefit form in order to be eligible for this benefit. Keep in mind that income tax and CPP will be deducted from this amount.

This form should be included as part of the maternity package you receive from AHS.

What is the PARA Parental Leave benefit?

Where a resident physician has or adopts a child, but is not eligible for maternity leave, he/she is eligible for two weeks paid leave; In addition, a Resident Physician shall receive at her/his request additional leave without pay or benefits as follows:

  1. Maternity Leave granted – total leave of up to seventy-eight (78) weeks inclusive of any leave taken under Article 11.03(b), or
  2. No Maternity Leave granted – total leave of up to sixty-two (62) weeks inclusive of any leave taken under Article 11.04(a).

When can I begin my maternity leave?

You may begin maternity leave up to 8 weeks before your estimated due date once you give your employer the required written notice which indicates the date your leave will begin. The latest that you may begin your maternity leave is the date of the birth of your child. Resident physicians have the option of going on sick leave prior to the start of their maternity leave at the recommendation of their physician.

When can I choose to stop performing overnight call? (see Article 19.02)

Unless a PARA member chooses otherwise, she will not be required to perform a call in excess of twelve (12) hours or between 2400 and 0600 hours after 27 weeks gestation.

If there is a valid medical reason (typically a medical certificate from your doctor), the pregnant resident physician could stop overnight calls and/or shifts in excess of twelve hours earlier.

When should I let my program know?

Resident physicians are strongly encouraged to let their programs know as soon as they feel comfortable sharing family planning information. Your Program Director should not find out from others in the program.

Good communication will help to minimize training disruptions for you and service disruptions for your program. Additional notice also helps ensure that the necessary administrative work that allows for a smooth transition to maternity leave is in place within your program, the Postgraduate Medical Education office and AHS Benefits and Payroll.

When would I apply for my PARA maternity top-up benefit and when should I expect to receive this payment?

You can apply for your PARA maternity top-up benefit by completing the Supplementary (Un)Employment Benefit form (or PARA SUB-Plan application form) and obtaining your first EI maternity benefit confirmation; send both to the Benefits Service Centre (details are on the form). Provided that all the correct documentation is received in a timely manner, resident physicians will receive a lump sum cheque approximately 4.5 – 5 months after the start of their maternity leave.

IMPORTANT: The SUB Plan Application form must be submitted within six months of a resident physician going on maternity leave. If this deadline is not met, the top-up payment will not be processed by AHS.

Note – if the lump sum payment will create significant financial hardship for you, please contact PARA to see if PARA is able to assist in requesting top-up in two payments for you.

Named Holidays

What are the named holidays? (see Article 21.01(a))

You are entitled to time off with pay for the following Named Holidays:

  • Family Day
  • Good Friday
  • Victoria Day
  • Canada Day
  • Heritage Day
  • Labour Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Remembrance Day

What days are not named holidays? (See Article 21.01(c)

These days are no longer considered Named Holidays as they are accounted for as part of the Winter Break.

  • New Year’s Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

What if I work on a Named Holiday? (See Article 21.02)

If you are scheduled to and commence work on a Named Holiday, you are entitled to a paid day in lieu. This work includes on-call duty hours and shift based duty hours. The day in lieu is to be scheduled during the same rotation at the time the call schedule is made. In the event that the day in lieu cannot be scheduled during the same rotation, it will be added to your vacation allotment.

It should be noted that working into a Named Holiday does not qualify for a day in lieu. The flex days provided to resident physicians take into account the times when an individual works on the day preceding a Named Holiday finishing the shift on the Named Holiday.

Vacation

Can I carry my vacation over to the next academic year? (see Article 20.03)

Vacation does not carry over to the next academic year. Any unused vacation that was requested in writing and denied or cancelled to meet critical service needs, will be paid out.

Unless there are extenuating circumstances for individual situations, vacation payouts will not be approved if there is no record of the vacation being requested and denied or cancelled by AHS to meet critical service needs.

Can my program deny my vacation request? (see Article 20.02)

Yes. If a mutually agreed upon time between the resident physician and the Program Director cannot be identified, the Program Director is responsible for scheduling the vacation. Reasonable effort needs to be made to accommodate the resident physician’s request; however, there is no guarantee the desired time off will be granted. It is recommended the resident physician request the time as soon as possible explaining the reasons for the request (if it is essential to get the time off).

How much vacation do I receive in a year? (see Article 20.01)

You are entitled to twenty (20) days of paid vacation time per Appointment Year. Such vacation shall be pro-rated for part-time Resident Physicians.

The Appointment Year differs from the Academic Year if it has been extended for any leaves of absence such as maternity leave.

What days should not count as vacation? (See Article 20.04)

Typically, any type of leave of absence is not considered vacation. In addition, any day that is not considered standard duty hours (such as Named Holidays and weekend) do not take up vacation time. Here is a more comprehensive list:

  • PARA Business
  • Maternity/Parental Leave
  • Educational Leave
  • Exam Leave
  • Study Leave
  • Special Leave
  • Compassionate Leave
  • Bereavement Leave
  • Sick Leave
  • Named Holidays
  • Winter Break
  • Flex Days
  • Weekdays where no shift has been scheduled

What is a flex day? (see Article 22.01)

In recognition of Resident Physicians who are scheduled and take calls the day before a Named Holiday resulting in working a portion of the Named Holiday, all Resident Physicians shall be entitled to four (4) flex days off each Appointment Year without loss of pay. These flex days are not part of the vacation entitlement.

Flex days are meant to replace the loss of a long weekend. Hence, there is no provision in the Resident Physician Agreement to guarantee being able to take two or more flex days together. As well, while there is no set time to apply for these days in advance, resident physicians are encouraged to give your program as much advance notice as possible. Similar to vacation, the requested days are not automatically approved.

The four flex days provided in the Resident Physician Agreement are available to be used throughout each Appointment Year. There is no provision for Flex Days to be paid out or carried forward into the next Appointment Year if not used, so if they are not used, they are essentially lost.

Winter Break

How many days do I get off during winter break (block 7)? (See Article 21.03)

You will receive six consecutive days off duty with pay between December 20 and January 5 in lieu of Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day. These days will be a combination of weekdays and weekend days.

Typically, the program will provide individuals with two (or more) options to choose from. However, since the Winter Break is subject to patient care provision the program has the final determination when the six days will occur.

I observe an alternate religious holiday, can I take my six days off during this time instead? (See Article 21.04)

You may request that the six consecutive days off duty be scheduled at another time to accommodate the observance of an alternative religious holiday. These six days, similar to the Winter Break, will be a combination of weekdays and weekend days. You must submit your request to your Program Director by August 1.

When submitting your request, provide two options for scheduling the six consecutive days off. Your Program Director will grant one of the options within fourteen (14) days of receiving the request.

Will I receive a day in lieu if I work between December 20 and January 5? (See Article 21.03)

If you receive six consecutive days off between December 20 to January 5, you will not receive a day in lieu. This is because you have already received the day off for working the Named Holiday as part of the Winter Break.