posted the largest increase (5.1 per cent) in the number of physicians of any province in that period. In only four years (2009, 1993, 1988 and 1982) in the past three decades, has B.C. seen such a substantial increase in the number of physicians. There were 221 physicians per 100,000 people in B.C. and 122 family doctors per 100,000 people in B.C. That was more than any in other western Canadian province, Quebec or Ontario. The provincial government has also had apparent success in fiscal constraint, even while having to pay more doctors. Payments to physicians across Canada ($22 billion) and B.C. ($2.7 billion) are at an all-time high. But the 2011-12 payment increase of 3.1 per cent in B.C. is the lowest jump since 2004-05. The increase pales in comparison, for example, to the whopping 16-per-cent hike B.C. doctors got in 2001-02.
Kelly McParland: Canadian doctors share national sense of disgruntlement
The PQ also broke its promise to cancel a much-disliked health tax, and will increase it instead, to $1,000 from $200, plus a 1.75% surtax on high-income earners, meaning the doctors will be paying top rates to help fund an increase they wont be getting after all, if the province has its way. Albertas doctors are at the other end of the spectrum. Already the highest paid in the country, theyd been negotiating for a new contract for 20 months, only to have one imposed on them last week by Health Minister Fred Horne. They arent pleased, and say the deal isnt good enough. We were shocked, surprised. We were taken off guard, lamented Alberta Medical Association president Dr. Michael Giuffre. I would say our relationship is not good Why is this the first time in Albertas history that weve had an imposition on physicians? Why has this gone so sideways? The deal provides a one-time 2.5 per cent lump sum payment based on 2011-12 billings and annual cost-of-living adjustments for the next three years. Horne acknowledged the doctors wanted considerably more, but Alberta, despite its comparatively enviable economic position maintains it cant afford more. Just last week Premier Alison Redford announced the government had no choice but to borrow money for long-term projects, ending its reign as Canadas only debt-free province. The province says the deal is worth $463 million for the doctors, but the AMA said Tuesday that when other elements are accounted for it is out more than $200 million, and refused to accept the contract . We think that [Horne] will think through what he has done, said Giuffre, who is demanding new talks. He will see the effect its had on physicians.