QUEBEC CITY – Around 800 family physicians gathered in Quebec City to say ‘no’ to Bill 20.
The legislation would require family doctors to take on a minimum of 1,000 patients or risk losing up to 30 per cent of their pay.
Health Minister Gaetan Barrette insists it’s the only way to improve access to healthcare in this province.
“We should normally see an increase of availability or access to primary care in 2015,” he said.
Barrette argues Quebec doctors are lazier than their peers in Ontario.
He says 60 per cent of general practitioners in Quebec work less than 25 weeks a year.
“We would not have to table Bill 20 if doctors were working fulltime and were adapting their practices to satisfy the needs of the population,” he told Global News.
But, doctors say the bill will have the opposite effect.
“The family physicians in Quebec spend more time in the hospitals,” argued Louis Godin with the Quebec Federation of General Practitioners.
“The workload of a family physician in Quebec is 50 per cent higher than the workload of a family physician in Ontario or elsewhere in Canada.”
Doctors are just the latest group to express frustration at being told they need to do more with less.
A CROP poll published Friday shows the Liberals are losing popular support with the number of “very dissatisfied” Quebecers rising from 23 to 30 per cent.
Unlike other groups who have taken to the streets to protest the government‘s austerity plan, Doctor Maxime Amar with CERSSPL-UL insists the solution won’t be found through protests, but rather through dialogue.
“General practitioners want to work with more nurses at different level of training to propose more accessibility to their own clients,” said Amar.
Working out a solution takes time, explains the group – and so does caring for patients with a wide range of problems.
“I’ll never make the quotas,” said Annie Gagnon, a Quebec City-area doctor.
“It’s impossible. People aren’t numbers, they’re people.”
Many say they fear doctors will retire or flee the province.
More than 15,000 people so far have signed a petition asking the Couillard government to drop Bill 20.