Quebec doctors take to the street to denounce inequalities in health care system

A protest led by a group of activist doctors is calling on the government to cancel a $2-billion deal with specialist doctors. Saturday, March 24, 2018. @MQRP_ Twitter

Protesters gathered at Parc Emilie Gamelin Saturday afternoon to take part in the Together for Healthcare march organized by the Médecins québécois pour le régime public (MQRP) — a group of 500 doctors, residents and medical students whose mission it is to defend and promote the public health care system.

Organizers are calling on the Quebec government to put an end to inequities within the system.

READ MORE: Quebec signs $2B deal with medical specialists

More specifically, the group is demanding the provincial government backtrack on plans to give them and other physicians substantial pay hikes.

WATCH: Quebec doctors criticize government for paying them more

Click to play video: 'Quebec doctors criticize government for paying them more'
Quebec doctors criticize government for paying them more

Instead, MQRP is asking that money be reinvested in the health care system to improve access to services and working conditions for other healthcare professionals.

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“While our colleagues from other healthcare fields work in increasingly difficult conditions and our patients often cannot access much-needed services, only physicians’ income seems to be immune to budget cuts!” a statement issued by MQRP reads.

READ MORE: Dispute continues between union leader and health minister over working conditions

The issue of overworked and exhausted nurses has been at the forefront in recent weeks, with the nurses union pushing for new laws to limit nurse-to-patient ratios.

After a series of meetings with the nurses’ union in February, the health minister agreed to put in place 16 pilot projects across the province to tackle the ratio issue.

READ MORE: Angry Quebec nurses push for lower patient ratios and less overtime

Quebec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir, who took part in the march, lent his support to protesters.

In a tweet, he said the government needed to cancel the deal with specialist doctors and redirect the money into hospitals for better patient care and to hire more staff. That, he said, is a true vision.

A month ago today, Quebec Solidaire organized its own protest, dubbing it a “citizen’s” march, to demand the resignation of Quebec’s health minister, Gaetan Barrette.

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READ MORE: March organized by Quebec Solidaire calls for health minister’s resignation

Khadir blamed Barrette’s misdirected policies, a vision too centred in the role doctors play, and the minister’s authoritarian and improvised management style for depriving establishments of necessary resources and the flexibility to act and solve problems on-site.

The embattled minister has no plans on resigning and told Global News at the beginning of the month that he still has the energy and the will to go on.

WATCH: Long-time Liberal MNA Jean-Marc Fournier will leave but Quebec Health Minister Barrette insists he is staying

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Long-time Liberal MNA Jean-Marc Fournier will leave but Quebec Health Minister Barrette insists he is staying

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