Quebec Doctors Protest Their Own Pay Raise

Dr. Jennifer Caudle

"If you ask physicians in the street, most will tell you that they would rather have more support and have a good working environment and have other professionals to refer their patients to, rather than having more money".

In Canada's Quebec, more than 500 doctors and 150 medical students have signed a public letter in protest over their own pay rises, in what seems like a demand for a decrease in their salaries.

The doctors pointed out that other health-care workers have faced drastic cuts in recent years, making working conditions more hard for nurses, clerks, and hospital staff. It has already garnered about 800 signatories, including physicians, general practitioners, specialists, resident medical doctors and medical students.

Doctors, who make an average salary of about $400,000 (Canadian) per year in Quebec, are scheduled to get a 1.4 percent raise each year from the government-run health program through 2023.

A report from the Canadian institute for Health Information states that the average Canadian physician earned $260,924 in 2016, not accounting for overhead costs.

"That's something that I would accept if they would accept among themselves", Minister Gaetan Barrette told CNN.

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He noted the ministry can't reverse the raises unless the majority of doctors vote for that to happen.

"It's like a union itself in terms of functioning", he said.

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

Quebec's nurses have complained of being overworked and underpaid. Barrette said he was now more focused on dealing with the nursing crisis. CBC News reported that nurses have some mandatory overtime requirements and have had "staffing issues" that resulted in nurses caring for "too many patients". "MQRP joins its voices to those of nurses to denounce this unacceptable situation, which affects the quality of care for the Quebec population and weakens our public health system".

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

"I have so much stress that I'm sore all over my back, enough to keep me from sleeping, I don't want to go to work because I'm dreading the burden that's waiting for me", she wrote.

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