Most of the Canadian doctors in South Sudan were among the Lost Boys who escaped from civil war in the 1980s and walked on marathon journeys to Ethiopian refugee camps. As an 11-year-old in 1983, Dr. Bior heard the big guns booming at the beginning of Sudans second civil war. His mother told him it was just a thunderstorm, but he saw the soldiers and fled into the bush. His mother thought he was dead, until an aunt found him. A year later, with bodies littering the streets, he walked away from the town. Like thousands of other refugee children, he walked for weeks through the bush, avoiding militia ambushes and eating fruit to survive, traumatized by the sight of dying civilians, before crossing into Ethiopia. At a refugee camp, rebel leader John Garang told the children they must be fighters of a different kind: engineers and doctors to build their homeland when it won independence. He knew this country would need us in the future, Dr. Bior said. He was among the 600 children who boarded Soviet ships and planes for the journey to Cuba. After graduating from medical school there, some were accepted by Canada as refugees. They were not allowed to practise medicine, so Dr. Bior became a warehouse labourer, while Dr. Lul worked in a factory.
CANADIAN DOCTORS DEMAND MORE PAY
It cited tax figures indicating that between 1971 and 1977 lawyers, dentists and accountants increased their incomes at a much faster rate than doctors. In Ontario, according to an association spokesman, the average net income for a doctor is about $53,000 a year. The doctors want their yearly incomes increased to well over $100,000 in some cases, and Mr. Geekie acknowledged that it was difficult to get support for this from ordinary Canadians making much less. Talks Break Down, Then Resume Ontario doctors were particularly upset last week when the provincial government tried to impose new fee schedules when negotiations with their representatives broke down. Although there have been further talks since then, many doctors saw the government’s move as the start of a process that could lead to state medicine and the transformation of doctors into salaried civil servants. The present Ontario fee schedule allows about $7.80 for an ordinary office visit, about $114 for an appendectomy and about $230 for complete obstetrical care over 11 months. Ontario has been proposing to raise these fees by some 10 percent a year over three years, while the Ontario Medical Association has been demanding twice that amount so doctors can ”catch up” with inflation. Talks in the last few days have narrowed the gap somewhat, and there was a possibility of an accord over the weekend. In Ontario 15 percent of the doctors do not participate in the system at all and charge what they like. Their patients recover part of the costs from the Ontario Health Insurance Program, to which almost all Canadians belong for about $19 a month for a single person and about $38 a month for a family; this fee also covers hospital costs. Some Bill for Extra Amounts Most doctors in Ontario and the rest of Canada accept the present system of publicly financed medicare because it helps to assure them of a minimum income. But in some provinces doctors are billing for amounts beyond those prescribed in the schedules.