Fair Alberta Injury Regulations (FAIR Alberta) has released an open letter signed by 87 medical professionals from across Alberta to Premier Jason Kenney and Minister of Finance Travis Toews opposing changes to Alberta’s insurance regulations.
The letter, which can be found here, is signed by a diverse group of medical practitioners including family physicians, surgeons, dentists, psychiatrists, physiotherapists and other professionals responsible for diagnosing and/or treating Albertans who have experienced injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident.
The insurance industry has been meeting with and pressuring government to make changes to Alberta’s minor injury regulations. The regulations, in place since 2004, cap damages for pain and suffering from “minor injuries”, such as sprains and strains resulting from an automobile accident. Industry lobbyists now want to change the definition of “minor injuries” to include some chronic conditions including concussions and chronic pain, which means more of the financial burden would fall onto injured Albertans to pay for their own recovery.
The signatories of the letter expressed concern that expansion of the minor injury regulations would unfairly punish Albertans who have been victims of vehicle accidents.
“We are deeply concerned that Albertans who suffer conditions like post-concussion syndrome, chronic pain, and PTSD arising from motor vehicle accidents will find themselves carrying more of the financial burden to support their recovery,” said Dr. Salim Esmail, an Edmonton-based orthopaedic surgeon who also performs assessments of clinical impairment and disability on patients who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents.
“Concussions, PTSD and chronic pain are not minor injuries and should not be categorically described or treated as such,” added Dr. Esmail.
Dr. Ashley Smith, PhD, a clinical specialist in musculoskeletal physiotherapy with over 25 years experience, who practices in Calgary, cautions that the Alberta government should commit to fulsome consultation on any changes.
“We’re talking about long-term conditions that can require extensive treatments and may affect one’s ability to earn an income, function, and simply enjoy life,” said Dr. Smith, whose research focuses on the processes underlying central pain mechanisms for individuals injured in road traffic collisions. “Experts within the medical community would value the opportunity to consult with the government to enhance the care of those with chronic injuries resulting from motor vehicle collisions, and prevent any unnecessary negative impact on their livelihood or quality of life.”
Media inquiries – contact Keith McLaughlin ([email protected] / 403-894-4290)
FAIR Alberta is a coalition of Albertans including concerned consumers, medical professionals, injured Albertans, and members of the legal community who are committed to protecting the rights of individuals that have been injured in motor vehicle accidents. FAIR works to ensure that the laws applying to injury victims are fair, that auto insurance companies are accountable to the premium paying public, and that individual Albertans receive fair compensation and appropriate treatment options for their injuries.