Over 700 doctors in Quebec are protesting a recent pay raise, claiming their salaries are already too big. Residents and medical students under the group Médecins Québécois Pour le Régime Public (MQRP) started an online petition in February to voice their opinion.
“We, Quebec doctors who believe in a strong public system, oppose the recent salary increases negotiated by our medical federations,” the petition states in French (via the Washington Post).
These doctors are uncomfortable accepting pay raises while others in the medical field, such as nurses and clerks, cope with challenging working conditions. In addition, doctors continue to benefit financially while patients “live with the lack of access to required services because of drastic cuts in recent years.”
Over the last few months, a nurses union in the province has been dealing with a nursing shortage and has complained of its staff being overworked. One nurse’s Facebook post went viral in January after she explained she felt “broken” by her profession after caring for more than 70 patients during one shift.
Dr. Isabelle Leblanc, president of MQRP, told CBC Montreal’s Daybreak (via CBC News): “If our colleagues are happier, if our patients are getting better care, we’ll all be winners, and it’s not an increase in pay that will do that.”
Quebec’s medical specialists are expected to receive a 1.4 percent salary increase each year, from $4.7 billion to $5.4 billion in 2023. Specialists in Quebec typically make around $403,537 a year, while those in Ontario earn much less—about $367,154, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
“The only thing that seems to be immune to the [health-care system] cuts is our salaries,” the petition by MQRP stated. “Contrary to the Prime Minister’s statements, 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 recommend the money that would be used for their salary increase should instead be redistributed throughout the province’s health care system.
Quebec’s health minister, Gaétan Barrette, said in response to the petition: “If they feel they are overpaid, they can leave the money on the table. I guarantee you I can make good use of it.”