Hundreds of Canadian doctors are protesting their own pay raises

Kenny Tucker
March 11, 2018

In Canada, more than 500 doctors and residents, as well as over 150 medical students, have signed a public letter protesting their own pay raises.

According to protesters, their wages are already too high and disproportionate to those of other health workers. The doctors instead have asked for the redistribution of the money for more nurses and towards affordable healthcare for patients.

"We are asking that the salary increases granted to physicians be cancelled and that the resources of the system be better distributed for the good of the healthcare workers and to provide health services worthy to the people of Quebec", the letter posted on 26 February states. The average family doctor receives $ 212,000 annually, and the surgeons - $ 354,000, while the sum does not include overtime pay.

The online petition of the doctors stated that the pay rise was shocking because nurses, clerks and others face hard working conditions and patients live with the lack of access to required services.

Canada provides "universal coverage for medically necessary health care services provided on the basis of need, rather than the ability to pay", according to the government's website.

The province's 10 000 medical specialists will see their annual salary climb from $4.7bn to $5.4bn in 2023, reported CNBC. "The only thing that seems to be immune to the cuts is our remuneration".

But not all physicians are on board - more than 700 physicians, both Global Positioning System and specialists, have signed a petition from Médecins Québécois Pour le Régime Public saying they do not want the rise, and they would rather have the extra money go to patient care and services.

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On Wednesday, an independent report commissioned by Quebec's Health and Welfare Commissioner found that physician salaries had doubled between 2005-15, while the hours doctors spent with patients declined.

Quebec's health minister Gaetan Barrette told CNN the doctors who don't want the money are in the minority.

The latest letter comes after nurses held sit-ins to protest their working conditions.

Part of what's driving this is the desperate situation Quebec's nurses say they find themselves in.

Quebec's nursing plight has been a much talked-about topic in Canada for months as nurses say that government cuts have worsened their work conditions, as well as patients' experience due to lower nurse to patient ratios.

The doctors took umbrage with the pay bumps while nurses and clerks were over overburdened and patients faced declining services because of budget cuts to the public health care system.

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