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Investing $8.7 million back into the profession

Posted February 1, 2021

A closer look at the pros & cons of what CPSA can do with the Building Fund Reserve

Post updated April 6, 2021 (*8.7 million is the fund amount as of Feb. 28, 2021)

Option #1: Use the fund for CPSA operations and reduce the physician annual fee in 2022.

Pros Cons
  • All practising Alberta physicians in independent practice in 2022, who normally pay the full annual fee, would get a one-time annual fee reduction.
  • As those who might recall Alberta’s “Ralph Bucks” in 2006, a one-time “gift” or “fee reduction” is only a temporary use of funds.
  • This might be welcomed after an especially trying year for Alberta physicians given the COVID-19 pandemic and various changes to healthcare legislation in the province.
  • If the economic situation worsens in the coming years, there would be no reserves left in the Building Fund coffers to then build or buy office space.
  • This one-time reduction would result in Alberta physicians paying approximately 2/3 of their annual fee (e.g. instead of paying $2,150, the 2022 annual fee might be closer to $1,450*).

 *Amount corrected on March 17, 2021. Previously listed as $700 which is the reduced amount.

  • Finally, this option would not benefit those physicians who contributed to the Building Fund in 2012-2016 who have since retired, left the province, passed away, or otherwise stopped practising in Alberta.
  • This would benefit all independent practising physicians in Alberta who pay their annual fee in 2022 (not only those physicians who contributed to the Building Fund in 2012-2016).

Option # 2: Keep the fund invested and wait for CPSA’s current building lease to expire in 2029. At that time, re-evaluate building or buying office space for CPSA, depending on the economic environment.

Pros Cons
  • Keeping the funds invested will likely grow the investment over time.
  • Having the funds sit idle for almost a decade, while CPSA could use them for a more immediate purpose, is a potential negative.
  • By 2029, if CPSA requires a new or a different building, there will be financial resources ready.
  • Given the ever-changing landscape of operations, the advent of working remotely, and the need (or lack thereof) of a downtown office space in a prime location, by 2029, using these funds to purchase or build a new CPSA office might be a moot point.
  • This option also ensures that CPSA uses the Building Fund for its original purpose.
  • A July 2020 survey of Canadians found that the majority of respondents were working from home, and ideally would continue to work either completely remotely (from home) or partially remotely (in office only part-time). Therefore, by 2029, there may not be a need for a CPSA office building to house upwards of 150 CPSA employees.

Option #3: Use the money to fund programs, initiatives or research to benefit all physicians, and ultimately Albertans. CPSA would also seek partners to match and grow the amount.*

*Note: It is not yet determined how various partner(s) might be selected. This could be accomplished via a physician task force, by Council, or by other means.

Pros Cons
  • The fund amount as is ($8.7 million), or if matched by one or more partners (doubling or tripling the amount) could go towards diverse programs, initiatives or research that could benefit all physicians.
  • Funding any program, initiative or research would be a one-time contribution from CPSA. Continued support would not be planned from CPSA operations.
  • Various organizations may be willing to fund research grants and/or match the amount for a project or initiative that could be mutually beneficial to that organization, as well as to CPSA and Alberta’s medical profession. CPSA has a dedicated Research & Evaluation Unit (REVU) in its Analytics, Innovation & Research department affiliated with the University of Alberta. This team has successfully collaborated with several external organizations to advance the field of evidence-based medical regulation including the Medical Council of Canada.
  • There will be no funds left in the Building Fund for CPSA to buy or build potentially needed office space.
  • Ultimately, any programs, initiatives or research that benefits Alberta physicians will also likely benefit all Albertans.
  • Also, depending upon which organizations, programs, initiatives and research are selected, the benefits of these investments may not be seen for several years.
  • The potential for long-term benefits from these types of investments is great, and the results would likely be far-reaching.

Option #4: A combination of the above.

Pros Cons
  • Survey respondents may appreciate this option as it could appeal to and benefit a wider audience/number of physicians.
  • The one-time reduction in physician annual fees for 2022 would be smaller than in Option #1.
  • With this Utilitarian Approach – “the greatest amount of good for the greatest number” – CPSA could use the funds towards:
    • A reduction for annual fees in 2022;
    • Maintenance of some (smaller) Building Fund for future use; and
    • Support for various programs, research and/or initiatives that might advance and assist all physicians – and by proxy, all Albertans.
  • The Building Fund would not be used entirely for the purpose in which it was originally collected.
  • Any program, initiative or research project benefitting all physicians would not be as robust or potentially far-reaching with fewer funds contributed and matched by another organization.

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