Medicine

Doctors in Canada reject pay hike: 'We already make too much money'

Doctors in Canada reject pay hike: 'We already make too much money'

The same group, the Médecins Québécois pour le Régime Public (MQRP), that published the aforementioned public letter, also published a letter on February 17 opposing $500 million worth of pay increases for specialist doctors.

The pay rises were part of a deal struck in February that would see doctors' salaries increase between 1.4 and 1.8 per cent each for the next eight years.

The medics' letter states: "We Quebec doctors believe in a strong public system, and we are opposed to the recent increases in wages agreed by our medical federations, which is shocking because our nurses, clerks and other health employees have very hard working conditions, and our patients have limited access to medical services after the drastic cuts in the budget in recent years and the concentration of power in the Ministry of Health".

Within weeks, the number of signatures has grown from about 250 to more than 700.

Their cry for fairer distribution of government funding comes at a time when the healthcare system is under intense scrutiny. On average, a family physician is paid United States dollars 211,717 for clinical services and a surgical specialist is paid USD 354,915, according to the same report.

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.

In January, a Facebook post of an exhausted nurse, following a taxing night shift, went viral.

In Kenya, the doctors' letter was greeted with shock, especially since a year ago Kenyan doctors went on a three-month strike for higher wages.

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At home, the Quebec doctors have been praised by officials, but some of their colleagues have kept mum.

In Canada, healthcare is public and run by the provinces, not the federal government, which means that salaries can vary quite a lot from province to province.

Quebec's health minister said that it's okay with him if the doctors don't want the money.

"If they feel they are overpaid, they can leave the money on the table". The group called the pay increase "indecent".

The average yearly salary of a specialist in Quebec in 2015 was about CA$403,537 ($312,000) and in Ontario about CA$367,154 ($285,000), according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

Almost 800 medical professionals and students in the Canadian province have signed a petition to actively campaign against an increase negotiated by their medical federation.

The province has cut fees twice in three years and the association still has not negotiated a contract with the province.