Contract Disputes get Ugly in Canada between the B.C. Health Ministry and Anesthesiologists

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 18th, 2012

Week in Review

Advocates for national health care in the US like to point to Canada to their health care system.  They say Canada has reached national health care utopia.  And there’s no reason why the US can’t either.  But it’s not really all that much of a utopia in Canada.  For even the Canadians argue about money (see B.C. anesthesiologists threaten to pull services by The Canadian Press posted 3/13/2012 on CBC News).

A contract dispute involving a group of B.C. anesthesiologists has boiled over into name-calling between politicians and physicians…

The entire dispute revolves around the bargaining mechanism between doctors and the Health Ministry.

The B.C. Medical Association is the sole bargainer for the province’s 11,000 doctors, but the anesthesiologists’ society wants to negotiate its own issues at the bargaining table.

The group said its concerns include recruiting and retaining doctors, cutting waiting lists, patient safety and efficiencies in the system.

De Jong [Health Minister] believes the problem is much narrower.

“Let’s not kid ourselves, this is a dispute about money, and a group — not all, but a group — of anesthetists who want to hold patients hostage to secure more money for themselves,” the minister said…

Over the past decade, de Jong said anesthesiologists have received a 33 per cent wage increase compared to a 22 per cent pay hike for general practitioners. They make about $350,000 a year with little overhead, he said.

According to the anesthesiologists there is a shortage of doctors in Canada.  Which results in poor patient care.  And long waiting lists.  And paying them more than $350,000 (about $353,000 US) will fix all of that.  According to the BC Health Minister, the anesthesiologists are just greedy.  Who use patients as pawns in their contract negotiations.

Canada is a lot smaller than the US.  So you can imagine how ugly these ‘negotiations’ will be under Obamacare.  The Obama administration will likely castigate doctors withholding their services as holding patients hostage, too.  While attacking them for being part of that greedy 1% the Occupy Wall Street movements so hate.  A movement, incidentally, supported by the current administration.  To provide an enemy to attack as they can’t run for reelection on their record.

Of course, Obamacare may help the Canadian health care system.  By providing a lot of highly skilled health care workers fleeing Obamacare for greener pastures under the Canadian system.  For it is unlikely that the American system will let any of their doctors earn  $353,000.  Not when they’re attacking the evil 1%.  Which, of course, will create poor patient care and long wait lists.  Only worse than in Canada.  Because the US is bigger than Canada.  And has more patients to fill wait lists.

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