Negotiations FAQ

Commonly asked questions about the Resident Physician Agreement and the negotiation process. To access the full Agreement, click here.

What is the Resident Physician Agreement?

The Resident Physician Agreement is the legally binding agreement between PARA (representing Alberta resident physicians) and the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, and Alberta Health Services. The Resident Physician Agreement describes the terms and conditions applicable to resident physicians related to the provision of health care services within a learning environment.

Who are the parties to the Agreement?

  • Alberta Health Services, University of Alberta, University of Calgary – act as one party to the Agreement
  • PARA – represents all Alberta resident physicians

What does the Agreement cover?

The Resident Physician Agreement is extensive covering all aspects of resident physician training and employment concerning pay, benefits, hours of work, leave of absences, vacation, on-call and more.

How long does the Agreement last? What happens when it expires?

The length of the Agreement is determined as part of the negotiations process. In the past, Agreements have typically covered three years to provide stability to the work environment of trainees.

Resident physicians are never without an Agreement. If the parties to the Agreement do not issue a notice of intention to amend terms, the Agreement is automatically extended one year.

If any one of the parties to the Agreement issue a notice of intention to amend terms, then all provisions in the Agreement remain in force throughout the negotiation process until a new Agreement is finalized.

Who makes up the PARA Negotiations Team?

The Negotiation Team consists of up to five resident physicians selected from the Negotiation Committee. The resident physicians are selected from across specialties and demographics to achieve the broadest perspective possible. Whenever possible, at least one resident physician attends each negotiation session. 

In addition to the resident physicians, the Negotiation Team includes PARA’s CEO, who acts as the Lead Negotiator on behalf of the Association.

How does PARA determine negotiation priorities?

Negotiation priorities are determined based on resident physician feedback including information gathered through the Negotiations Survey. In this and all things, the PARA Negotiation Committee, Assembly and Executive Board are always working towards the best interest of PARA’s 1,700 diverse members.

Member priorities for negotiations have remained consistent through time with the top concerns being compensation, call stipends/durations and benefits. 

What is PARA’s negotiations strategy?

Our strategy in negotiations is to focus on the priorities as determined through resident physician feedback. We aim to maintain functional and collaborative working relationships with the other parties to ensure positive training environments while maximizing gains for our resident physicians.

How long do negotiations usually take?

The length of negotiations depends on the issues that need to be discussed. If there are significant non-monetary issues, more sessions are usually required.

Alberta’s Resident Physician Agreement’s ratification process is different from a traditional collective agreement because PARA is not a union. After recommendation from the Negotiations Team, the PARA Executive Board is responsible for the final approval of any Agreement.

Though the three other parties to the Agreement (AHS, U of A, and U of C) act as one party during negotiations, all three parties need to sign the Agreement.

What if an agreement isn’t reached?

If the parties are unable to reach agreement on all negotiation issues, those left unresolved will be part of binding arbitration.

If one party believes that a negotiated agreement is not possible, it will formally submit a notice for arbitration under Article 40 of the Resident Physician Agreement.

What is binding arbitration?

Binding arbitration involves the submission of the unresolved issues to an agreed upon Arbitrator. During a hearing, the Arbitrator listens to the arguments from all parties and reviews the written submissions from both parties. From these arguments, the Arbitrator will make a final decision. This final decision is binding on all parties with no means of appeal.

Can resident physicians strike?

No. In Alberta resident physicians do not have the right to strike. In place of this right to strike we have binding arbitration.

Why not strike?

Alberta has historically legislated back to work those deemed to be essential workers. As resident physicians are essential to the health care system, any strike would most likely result in being legislated back to work.

Any disruption in training due to job action would result in extensions of training. These delays in the completion of training have been deemed as unacceptable by resident physicians in the past

How can I get involved/share my voice?

PARA is always open to member feedback. If you have any questions please email PARA’s CEO.

As well, PARA encourages members to become involved more directly by volunteering for the Negotiation Committee, serving on the PARA Assembly or the PARA Executive Board.