At this hour, CKNW is reporting that "British Columbia's 8,000 doctors are getting a hefty pay increase under a tentative agreement between the Liberal government and the B.C. Medical Association...In a confidential letter to the doctors, BCMA president Dr. Michael Golby says in the first four years doctors will receive fee hikes of 19.1 percent - which breaks down into a general increase of 10.4 percent over four years, plus a hike of 8.7 percent in targeted compensation." The report comes courtesy of CHNL's Angelo Iacobucci. The following is a complete copy of that letter - obtained separately by Public Eye - which provides further details about the deal.
March 11, 2006
As you know, over the last two days the BCMA Board of Directors has met to review a draft of a negotiated agreement. The agreement is the result of negotiations that started last October to resolve the third-year compensation of the current working agreement.
I am pleased to say that the agreement deals with much more than just one year's compensation. It is a multi-year agreement that addresses annual compensation, targets funding to deal with critical issues, provides support for IT and protects the provisions in the Master Agreement. It is an agreement that provides needed support for all groups of BC physicians.
Some of the highlights of the agreement are:
* A general compensation increase of 10.4% over four years plus an increase of 8.7% in targeted compensation. This provides an average increase of 19.1% over the first four years.
* There will be a reopener and arbitration for years 5 and 6 (the first increase is effective April 1, 2006)
* maintenance of all of the protections and benefits of the Second Master Agreement
* maintenance and funding for Benefits, Maternity Leave and rural programs for the full six years
* improvements to the CPRSP
* change of Maternity leave to Parental Leave in years 6 and 7
* significant new money for primary care renewal
* significant new money to address specialist disparity
* funding to deal with problems in the salary and service contract grids
* an additional increase of 5.5% for sessions
* significant funding for the use of IT by physicians
The BCMA Board made the decision to send the agreement out for your review and ratification. They are sending to you with a recommendation to approve the agreement.
We know you will have lots of questions about the agreement and will want the time and opportunity to review it, talk about it with your colleagues and ask the people who negotiated the deal any questions you have.
We plan to send out written materials, have information and a place to ask questions on the BCMA website, have a 1-800 information line and hold information meetings across the province. The timeline looks like this:
Information section on the BCMA website created to provide members with information about the agreement. Log on to www.bcma.org and follow the links to "2006 Negotiations News" on the member side of the site.
There you will find a more detailed summary of the agreement, frequently asked questions and a message board where you can post questions and opinions you have about the agreement. As they emerge, frequently asked questions will be posted in this section with replies.
An information toll-free telephone line available to allow you to reach someone who can answer your questions. The toll free line is 1-800-665-2262. Ask to be put through to the negotiations member information person.
From 4:30 to 8:00 p.m. Monday to Thursday for the period of March 13 to March 30th Adrian Leung will be available to answer your questions. You can reach him at 604-638-2871 or 1-800-665-2262.
If you are calling outside business hours, after 8:00 p.m. during the noted days or on weekends, please leave a message at 604-638-2871. You will receive a call-back on the next business day.
You can also e-mail your questions to email@example.com.
Week of March 13th
An information package will be sent to all members. It will include an overview of the agreement, a Q&A document and a list of times and locations for member information meetings.
Week of March 27th
Information meetings are being arranged for various locations across the province. BCMA members will be invited to attend a session nearest to them to learn more about the agreement and to have the opportunity to ask questions about it.
Over the next week or so, details of the time and location of these information meetings will be sent to you and posted on the website. I encourage you to attend one of these meetings to be sure you learn first-hand about the agreement. It is a multi-faceted agreement that you will want to be sure you understand.
March 24, 2006
Referendum package mailed to all members. Written information about the agreement and ballot included.
May 3, 2006
Voting deadline closes
This agreement is important for a number of reasons. It represents an important first step in restoring a positive working relationship between BC physicians and the provincial government. This will allow doctors to contribute to the decisions made about health care in the province.
It addresses many of the most acute concerns that you have identified to us including financial support for the renewal of Primary Care, funding to address income disparities between specialty sections and funding to address problems with the salary and service contract payment ranges.
A longer term agreement also means physicians can focus on addressing the barriers that inhibit providing patient care. We can stop the cycle of conflict that so often accompanies the negotiations process and get on with the work we want to do of looking after our patients.
I urge you to take the time to become familiar with the agreement and to support the deal.
Please watch for more details on the information about the agreement and the voting process.
Michael Golbey, MD