More than 750 physicians, residents, and medical students in Quebec signed an online petition asking that a recent hike in their salaries be canceled and that the funds go, instead, to overburdened nurses and patients in need of health care.
“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 only thing that seems to be immune to the cuts is our remuneration,” the petition read in French.
The move comes weeks after the government released details of a $2 billion proposal to triple the salaries of doctors over the course of 10 years. The average salary for doctors in Quebec is $403,537 or approximately $314,000 in U.S. dollars. A recent report commissioned by Quebec’s Health and Welfare Commissioner found that doctors’ wages had doubled from 2005 to 2015, while facetime between doctors and patients has decreased.
Prior to the $2 billion deal finalization, several members of Parti Quebecois (PQ), which has pushed for freezing doctors’ salaries, asked why the funds weren’t being used to help patients in need of care.
“Giving $1 billion to 10,000 specialists in the next five years is simply obscene,” said PQ Leader Jean-François Lisée, according to Global News.
Since then, a Quebec nurses union has been sparring with the government over demanding working conditions, including high nurse-to-patient ratios, nurse shortages, and low wages.
“There’s always money for doctors,” Nancy Bédard, president of the Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), told Global News in February. “But what about the others who take care of patients?”
In a meeting with Quebec’s health minister Gaétan Barrette, Bédard said, “My people are fed up … patients don’t have the care they need.”
While it is unclear whether the petition will result in major changes for nurses and patients, Barrette seemed to be open to the idea of redistributing funds.
“If they feel they are overpaid, they can leave the money on the table,” he said last month, according to CBC. “I guarantee you I can make good use of it.”