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Quebec doctor activists want better system, not more money

FILE - An activist group of doctors want Quebec's two doctors' federations to freeze salary increases and instead, negotiate for better working conditions. File/Getty Images

An activist group of doctors want Quebec’s two doctors’ federations to freeze salary increases and instead, negotiate for better working conditions.

READ MORE: More than 200 Quebec doctors come out against proposed pay increases

The group, which goes by the acronym ROME for Regroupement des Omnipraticiens pour une Médecine Engagée, represents 600 doctors out of the over 19,000 general practitioners and medical specialists who work in Quebec.

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ROME says there is a growing movement of young doctors, in particular, that would be willing to trade higher salaries so that more money can go towards hiring more nurses and support staff and lowering wait times in hospitals.

READ MORE: Quebec nurses push for new law to limit nurse-to-patient ratios

President of ROME, Dr. Simon-Pierre Landry, is the head of the ER in Sainte-Agathe. He said in January, they were over-capacity by 200 per cent.

“That means for 20 spots for patients on stretchers, we had 40 to treat. This is dangerous. This doesn’t make my life good. This is not good medical practice,” he said.

READ MORE: Minister says Quebec ER doctors should work more

Dr. Landry said he believes the health-care system is getting worse, despite reforms put in place by Health Minister Gaetan Barrette.

“I was trained in British Columbia until 2011 so when I came back to Quebec, I was scandalized. I couldn’t believe the system was that bad,” he said. “This was actually the first time I decided to start writing and being involved in medical politics — it was because I had known something better, a better system.”

READ MORE: Canada’s health-care system is third-last in new ranking of developed countries

According to a study released last month by the C.D. Howe Institute, Alberta and British Columbia’s health system perform the best out of the provinces, while Quebec was middle of the pack. Canada placed ninth in the study when compared to other developed countries.

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