The price of health care in Canada continues to rise, and with today’s physicians earning nearly four-and-half-times that of the average Canadian, one source of that increase is doctors themselves.
That’s according to a report published by the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, which takes a look at the “drastic” rise in physicians’ pay over the last 50 years.
“In constant dollars, today’s average Canadian physician is earning about 30 per cent more than he or she was just a decade ago,” wrote authors Hugh Grant and Jeremiah Hurley. “All of this has occurred while physicians have actually provided slightly fewer services to patients.”
The current system for determining physician remuneration is built on collective bargaining, where provincial governments and medical associations negotiate increases in fee levels for physician services. Over the years, “doctors have succeeded in outmaneuvering governments, marshalling greater public support for higher pay for their work,” said Grant and Hurley, and this led to the average physician earning a net income of $248,113 in 2010.
Some provincial governments have reached their breaking point and taken a stand against mounting physician incomes, said the report. For example, Ontario froze remuneration for doctors in a negotiated contract deal and Alberta imposed a unilateral settlement on its doctors after breaking off negotiations.
But there is a need for policy makers and physicians to collaborate on building a new model for funding physicians’ work, one that is in line with the fiscal realities faced by government and that assures public health objectives are met, said the authors.
The report, Unhealthy Pressure: How Physician Pay Demands Put the Squeeze on Provincial Health-Care Budgets, can be found at report.
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