Commonly asked questions about the Resident Physician Agreement and the bargaining 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 your 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 bargaining process. In the past, Agreements have typically been for three years to provide stability to the work environment of trainees.
Resident physicians are never without an Agreement. If neither of the parties to the Agreement provides a Notice of Intent to Bargain, the Agreement is automatically extended one year. If either party provides a Notice of Intent to Bargain, then all provisions in the Agreement remain in force throughout the bargaining process until a new Agreement is finalized.
Where are we now?
- The last Agreement was implemented in 2018.
- In Spring 2020, the PARA Executive Board determined that it was not in the best interests of resident physicians to enter into bargaining due to the pandemic and the existing political and economic environment. As such, the Agreement was automatically extended for one year.
- Again in Spring 2021, the PARA Executive Board evaluated the political and economic environment and along with the other party to the Agreement agreed to a formal extension of the Agreement to the end of September 2021 in the hopes of a more positive environment for bargaining.
- Summer 2021 saw no improvement in the environment so the Agreement was extended an additional three months to the end of December 2021.
- In December, after extensive discussions, the PARA Negotiation Committee recommended to the PARA Executive Board that no further extension should be sought. The PARA Executive Board approved the submission of the Notice of Intent to Bargain. The Notice was submitted on December 15, 2021 allowing negotiations to begin.
Who makes up the PARA Negotiations Team?
The Negotiation Team consists of up to five resident physicians (selected from the Negotiation Committee where at least one resident physician attends each bargaining session (whenever possible).
In addition to the resident physicians, the Negotiation Team includes PARA’s CEO who has acted as the Lead Negotiator on behalf of the Association.
How does PARA decide what bargaining priorities are?
Negotiation priorities are determined based on resident physician feedback 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 bargaining have remained consistent with the top concerns being compensation, call stipends/durations and benefits.
What is PARA’s bargaining strategy?
PARA, and the other parties involved, use a collaborative bargaining model. Collaborative bargaining focuses on ensuring (where possible) all parties have their needs met in order to ensure that there are positive working relationships that will enhance the training environments for resident physicians
How long does bargaining usually take?
The length of bargaining depends on the issues that need to be discussed. If there are significant non-monetary issues then there is usually more bargaining sessions required.
Unlike a traditional collective agreement, Alberta’s Resident Physician Agreement’s rectification process is different. PARA is not a union – hence, the PARA Executive Board is responsible for the final approval of any Agreement.
As well, even though the three other parties to the Agreement act as one party representatives of AHS, U of A, and U of C all need to sign the Agreement.
What if an agreement isn’t reached?
If the parties are unable to reach agreement on all bargaining 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 among Arbitrator. A hearing occurs where the Arbitrator hears the arguments from all parties and reviews the written submissions from both parties in order to 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 is binding arbitration.
Why not strike?
First, 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.
Second and perhaps even more important - 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 or 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.
Finally, within a year of bargaining PARA sends out a Negotiation Survey where individual are asked to share their experiences, suggestions, and concerns.
Grab your headset and tune into our pilot audioblog to learn important PARA information.
PARAPhrase Episode 1: An Introduction to Negotiations.