News in Nursing

Canadian Doctors Say: Money Should Go to Nurses and Lower Healthcare Costs

Canadian Doctors Say: Money Should Go to Nurses and Lower Healthcare Costs

More than 700 Canadian physicians, medical students, specialists and resident doctors signed an online petition stating they won’t take the $700 million in raises provided to them by the provincial government after last month's negotiations.

Refreshing! It’s not very often that anyone gives back a raise, especially medical professionals. This astonishing proclamation further claimed that the money should go to nurses’ and clerks' salaries and to help lower costs for patients. The petition that was issues by a Quebecois health advocacy group elaborates, “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 doctors stated that healthcare workers faced cuts in recent years and this made working conditions very difficult for clerks, nurses, and hospital staff. The doctors say, “The only thing that seems to be immune to the cuts is our (salaries).” 

Nurse unions in Quebec have made efforts for the government to address issues like the nursing shortage, nurse-patient ratios laws, and salary. In the negotiations, the union claimed that nurses were overworked and needed better working conditions. To push this, nurses around Quebec had sit-ins to demonstrate the need for better working conditions and salaries. 

In January, the situation was further illustrated in a Facebook post written by Emilie Ricard, a nurse in Quebec. Emilie posted a teary-eyed photo of herself after a particularly exhausting night shift. Ricard went on to say that "she was the only nurse on the floor to care for more than 70 patients." She was stressed, and so exhausted that painful cramps kept her from sleeping.

Ricard’s post was an answer to the statements made by Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette claiming the health care system was a success. Ricard went on to say, “I don’t know where you’re going to get your information, but it’s not in the reality of nursing. 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.”

Nancy Bedard, president of the Quebec’s nurse’s union further claimed that there is always money for doctors, but little money for those who care for the patients: The nurses.

The Washington Post reports that physicians in Canada make about $260,000 and specialists make about $403,000 per year.  A labor organization in Quebec states that nurses make only about $50,000 per year. (Statistics concerning doctor’s and nurse’s salaries come from the National Physician Database and Scott’s Medical Database). The health minister of Quebec, in response to the doctor’s statements, told CBC News that doctors could leave their money on the table and he (the minister) would be happy to use it somewhere else.

The minister told the CBC that the issue of working conditions has been brought to his attention. Though Quebec and Canada doesn't have an unlimited amount o money, he said that they do have enough to resolve issues in their working conditions. 

Canada’s Health Care System

Medicare refers to Canada’s publicly funded health care system, which includes 13 provincial and territorial healthcare insurance systems. All Canadian residents are guaranteed access to treatment that is medically necessary. This includes physician and hospital services without out-of-pocket payments.

Territorial and provincial governments are responsible for the management, delivery of healthcare services, and organization. Canada’s federal government is responsible for setting and administering national standards for the healthcare systems. They also provide funding support for provincial and territorial health care services, supporting the delivery of healthcare services to specific groups, and providing other health-related functions.

Provincial and territorial health care insurance plans are set up to meet the standards set out in the Canada Health Act. Provinces and territories must follow the federally mandated standards to get paid for services provided to citizens.

Provincial and territorial plans are administered on a non-profit basis by a public authority and standards include:

  • Accessibility
  • Portability
  • Universality
  • Comprehensiveness
  • Public administration.

Canada's federal government provides funding to all the provinces and territories, and they receive additional funding support through other fiscal transfers.

There are specific groups in Canada that need health care services, including First Nations people living on reserves, Inuit, those serving in Canadian Forces, veterans, prisoners, and refugees.

The Canadian federal government supports research, protection and promotion, and disease monitoring and prevention. They also support health-related functions provided by the federal government, which include food and consumer products, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, chemicals, medical devices, and pesticide regulations.

Canadians have access to primary health care services by using their primary health care that delivers health care services directly.

Accessing Canada’s Health Care System

Delivery of healthcare is the responsibility of each province or territory. Health care includes insured primary health care, and care in hospitals which are most of the provincial and territorial health expenditures. Each province and territory also provides groups with supplemental health benefits not covered by the general Canadian Act, such as prescription drug coverage. The level of coverage for supplemental benefits varies between the different providences and territories.

The gateway to receive health care in Canada is through a health card or, what is called, a Care Card, which are provincial responsibility. You need to contact your province or territory of residence to find out how to apply for a healthcare card.

For example, in Alberta, you are not covered for insured medical services until all the required information is received and the application processed. You can have medical services reimbursed once you have proved eligibility. Coverage is determined based on the following criteria:

  • If you move to Alberta or any other province from within Canada, coverage begins the first day of the third month after the date you start permanent residency.
  • Once your move to Alberta from outside of Canada, your coverage starts on the date of your arrival in Alberta, and after meet all registration validation requirements.