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Why Some Canadian Doctors Are Trying to Get Paid Less, Not More

March 8, 2018, 12:38 PM UTC
Doctor in white lab coat grips stethoscope
TORONTO, ON- JANUARY 06: Dr. Diego Delgado, a TGH cardiologist who wears his physician father's stethoscope, given him when he graduated medical school 15 years ago, photographed at Toronto General Hospital. (Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Lucas Oleniuk—Toronto Star via Getty Images

Hundreds of doctors in the Canadian province of Quebec are protesting against their pay. However, the doctors in Canada’s public health system are not angling for more money. Instead they’re complaining that they should be paid less.

The physicians, residents, and medical students are outraged that Quebec’s latest budget gives them a significant raise—11.2% for specialists over eight years—but does not provide for an increase in nursing staff.

Quebec is in the throes of a nursing crisis, with some nurses reporting themselves to their professional association because they say overwork means they can no longer maintain a proper standard of care.

Late last month, the Quebec doctors’ association MQRP fired up a petition against the doctors’ raises, saying the increases are “shocking” when nurses, clerks and other medical professionals “face very difficult working conditions” and patients have been hit by budget cuts affecting the public health system.

The petition has so far amassed 742 signatures—420 physicians, 157 resident doctors and 165 medical students.

“We, Quebec doctors, 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 health care workers and to provide health services worthy of the people of Quebec,” it reads.

According to figures quoted by CBC News, specialists in Quebec make an average of 403,537 Canadian dollars ($311,853) each year, compared with $367,154 in Ontario.

The news organization reported that Quebec’s health minister, Gaétan Barrette, said the doctors could give up their raise if they want. Barrette said he was now more focused on dealing with the nursing crisis.