When offered a raise, hundreds of physicians in Quebec just said no. Or at least they've signed a petition protesting the pay hikes that were recently negotiated between their federations and the provincial government. Give the money to nurses and other healthcare workers, they said.
By deadline, nearly 900 general practitioners, specialists, residents and medical students had signed the online petition begun Feb. 25 by Médecins Québécois Pour le Régime Public, a physician healthcare advocacy group.
"We, Quebec doctors, are asking that the salary increases granted to physicians be canceled and that the resources of the system be better distributed for the good of the health care workers and to provide health services worthy to the people of Quebec," the petition reads when translated to English.
Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette said if they don't want a raise, it's fine with him. "If they feel they are overpaid, they can leave the money on the table and I guarantee you I can make good use of it," he told the Toronto Star.
The province has about 20,200 physicians, according to the Canadian Medical Association.
Quebec physicians have seen healthy raises since 2003, when their pay was lagging behind the doctors in other provinces, earning 30% less than doctors in Ontario. Thanks to the raises, Quebecois specialists' incomes now outpace those in Ontario, while family physicians still earn less than their neighbors to the west, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
While specialists in the U.S. also earn more than family docs, the debate has a sharper political edge in Quebec, where the premier, Philippe Couillard, is a neurosurgeon who as health minister helped negotiate those raises. And the health minister is a radiologist, who led the specialist physician group during those talks on raises.