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Why hundreds of Canadian doctors want a lower salary

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In what may at first seem a strange call, hundreds of doctors and medical students in Quebec have rejected a pay rise.

Nearly 800 medical professionals and students in the Canadian province have signed a petition to actively campaign against an increase negotiated by their medical federation.

Instead, the signatories of the Medicins Quebecois Pour le Regime Public (MQRP) letter want the money better distributed among nurses and spent improving the state-run medical services for the people in Canada's second-most populous province.

"We, Quebec doctors, are asking that the salary increases granted to physicians be cancelled and that the resources of the system be better distributed for the good of the healthcare workers and to provide health services worthy to the people of Quebec," the letter said.

"Contrary to the Prime Minister's statements, we believe that there is a way to redistribute the resources of the Quebec health system to promote the health of the population and meet the needs of patients without pushing workers to the end."

External Link: Post by Quebec nurse Emilie Ricard

More than 600 doctors and medical residents — including 210 specialists — are among the petition signatories, but there are about 20,000 doctors in Quebec.

The pay rises were part of a deal struck in February that would see doctors' salaries increase between 1.4 and 1.8 per cent each for the next eight years.

It comes as evidence showed the amount of money being paid to Quebec's specialist physicians increased by $159,000 between 2009 and 2016, while the number of hours they worked and the number of patients they saw went down.

Doctors in Quebec have, on average, made less than their counterparts in Ontario, Canada's largest province, and the union representing the physicians in the French-speaking region believe the rises are fair.

Nurses unhappy with conditions

The pay rise comes as working conditions for nursing staff in Quebec is under the spotlight.

A social media post by nurse Emilie Ricard detailing the difficulties of her job and aimed at Quebec's Health Minister Gaetan Barette went viral and was shared over 50,000 times.

"I have so much stress that I'm sore all over my back, enough to keep me from sleeping, I don't want to go to work because I'm dreading the burden that's waiting for me," she wrote.

"I'm coming home and I'm crying tired."

Mr Barrette has responded to the doctor's petition and said he would find something else to do with the money.

"If they feel they are overpaid, they can leave the money on the table. I guarantee you I can make good use of it," he said.

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