Note: This article reminds us that our work is never done. No system is perfect. Efforts to improve a system, as these doctors and students are doing in Canada will always be required.
National Improved Medicare for All is a first step in the United States toward solving our healthcare crisis because it provides a universal healthcare system. Our tasks, once we achieve it, will be to make sure that it accomplishes the goals we set and to protect it from cuts and privatization. – Margaret Flowers, M.D.
By Ryan Sit for Newsweek
Hundreds of Canadian doctors, medical specialists and residents, as well as medical students, have signed a petition protesting their own pay raises, instead asking that the money be reallocated to help nurses and patients in need.
“We, Quebec doctors who believe in a strong public system, oppose the recent salary increases negotiated by our medical federations,” reads the letter, originally posted in French, the official language in the Canadian province.
More than 700 people have added their names to the petition since it was published on February 25. As of Tuesday, at least 213 general practitioners, 184 specialists, 149 resident medical doctors and 162 medical students had signed the petition, according to CNBC.
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.
“These increases are all the more shocking because our nurses, clerks and other professionals face very difficult working conditions, while our patients live with the lack of access to required services because of the drastic cuts in recent years and the centralization of power in the Ministry of Health,” the letter said. “The only thing that seems to be immune to the cuts is our remuneration.”
“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 letter said.
Canada offers “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.
“We believe that there is a way to redistribute the resources of the Quebec health system to promote the health of the population and meet the needs of patients without pushing workers to the end,” the doctors wrote.
The average Canadian physician in 2016 earned some $260,924, according to a September 2017 report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. The institute clarified that this figure indicates gross pay and doesn’t account for each doctor’s overhead, it said in a statement to CNBC.
The group that published the February 25 petition, Médecins Québécois Pour le Régime (MQRP), also authored a February 17 letter opposing $500 million in pay increases for specialist doctors, calling the increase raises “indecent.”
The latest letter comes after nurses held sit-ins to protest their working conditions. On February 1, the group of doctors published a letter of solidarity supporting their colleagues.
“The subject of nurses’ work overload is at the heart of the news following the ‘sit-ins,’” MQRP wrote. “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.”
“We also wish to remind the government that the current situation is far from normal or inevitable and is largely caused by the cuts it has imposed on the public network,” the group wrote.