Quebec deal with specialists could total $1B

The deal with Quebec's specialists, which will become public on Friday, is already making shock waves at the National Assembly this week. File/Getty Images

The Quebec government will make its deal with specialist doctors public on Friday, but the agreement is already making shock waves at the National Assembly this week.

Media and opposition parties speculate — and the government isn’t denying that the deal includes $500 million in back pay to Quebec’s 10,000 specialists, as well as another $500 million in salary increases over the next five years.

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For the last decade, Quebec’s specialists have been paid the same as specialists in Ontario, but now, they actually earn more, a result of salary clawbacks in that province, Quebec’s health minister explained.

Minister Gaetan Barrette said new salary increases are necessary for Quebec specialists because Ontario’s doctors are in binding arbitration that could see their pay rate jump enormously.

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“Did you know that doctors are asking in Ontario a 39 per cent increase?” Barrette said. “You can imagine if the arbitrator is making a decision taking the side of doctors, you can imagine the consequences for Quebec.”

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Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-François Lisée said there’s no reason to continue to pay Quebec doctors in line with Ontario doctors.

“We don’t do this for nurses, for teachers, for everybody else, in Quebec society. [And] tuition fees at the university to become a doctor are much lower than they are in Ontario,” he said.