More than 700 doctors in Canada’s Quebec are protesting against a recent pay rise for them because they say doctors are already taking home a fat pay cheque while nurses and clerks are poorly paid.
“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 signed the petition since it was published on February 25 by a group named Médecins Québécois Pour le Régime (MQRP), according to CNBC.
In February, Quebec’s federation of medical specialists and the government agreed to increase the annual salaries of medical specialists by about 1.4 percent, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News reported.
However, doctors’ conscience was scalded by a viral Facebook post by a Quebec nurse who shared her story with a teary-eyed photo of hers after a killing night shift.
Emilie Ricard said in her post: “Another morning I finish my shift, exhausted, exhausted, which I've been busting my ass for because I'm the only nurse to cover 70-76 patients.”
“I have so much stress that I'm sore all over my back, enough to keep me from sleeping,” said the post which has now been shared more than 55k times.
She added: “I am broken by my profession, I am ashamed of the poverty of the care that I provide as far as possible. My Health system is sick and dying.”
A nurses union in Quebec has been pushing for a law that would limit the number of patients a nurse could attend. 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.
The physicians group said it could not in good conscience accept pay raises when working conditions remained difficult for others in their profession — including nurses and clerks — and while patients “live with the lack of access to required services because of drastic cuts in recent years.”
Dr. Isabelle Leblanc, president of the organization, told CBC Montreal's Daybreak: "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," she said.
The petition ended by asking that the salary increases be canceled and the money be redistributed throughout Quebec's health-care system.
"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.
Barrette, the health minister, responded to the petition.
“If they feel they are overpaid, they can leave the money on the table,” he said Feb. 26, according to CBC. “I guarantee you I can make good use of it.”