Doctoring the books

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

Dear Colleagues:

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:

March 11th

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.

March 13th

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 aleung@bcma.bc.ca.

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.

Sincerely,

Michael Golbey, MD
President

17 Comments

It's unfortunate that this government doesn't see that there many others who also work in healthcare and are also deserving of a decent increase. The doctors and nurses did well a few years back with good increases, and continue too under this government. The less important ones in the eyes of the liberals, have tightened their belts over the last few years with 0-0-0's and some a 15% rollback and others job losses, and the best they can offer to them now is 1.5 - 2%. The signing bonus is just a carrot, and I hope that the unions and their membership don't fall for it. They all are deserving of at the very least, the same as the doctors are receiving, although I feel that they deserve more. Unfortunately, this government doesn't stand for the average citizen going to work everyday and trying to earn a decent, living wage.

The government values doctors and nurses over cooks and laundry workers. Wheres the scandal md?

Wasn't it less than two years ago the doctors each got a small raise of $50,000 each, and are back at it again?

And folks complain about unions going for a very few percent .The BCGEU walked today as the government was dragging their heels. The HEU got legislated back with a 15 percent wage cut. Our family member a LPN lost 4 dollars an hour.

The teachers walked and got orded back but wouldn't go. Big fine for those nasty teachers.

But MD's, a group of private business folks go for the big bucks and get it everytime. No performance guarantees required.Wait lists get longer. What a deal

Doctors are overpaid, extremely overpaid - that is the elephant in the room in the health care debate. Nobody wants to tackle that sacred cow but if they were paid less and not more health care would be affordable. No other profession is guaranteed six and seven figure salaries out of the public purse. We should quadruple the number of spaces for doctors in medical school, saturate the market for physicans and then due to rules of supply and demand reign in their outrageous salaries. If what they are really interested in doing is help people maybe they will be able to handle living off of $200000 per year instead of $500000 (which is not where we are headed, it is where we are at for specialties)

Funny watching the news tonight and all the BS from the BCGEU and HEU over the doctors settlement numbers, ironic that the BCTF feels justified in asking for 20% however when the doctors are offered less, the public sector unions imply there is apparently some type of double standard.

There is close to $6 Billion on the table for the public sector and those greedy bastards would still bitch about what the doctors have earned. Let's get on with the general strike and see if the province is prepared to be ruled by Carole 'flip flop' James.

per Kevin, let's hope the PSU's are planning a general strike or at least massive disruptions in services ( whatever they are }
It will only drive home the groundswell of public opinion to privatize whatever moves.
Bring it on PSU's, we are prepared to deal with you.
PSU = Public Sector Unions.

I agree with Ron..lets privatize everything !! I want it to be run fairly and efficiently like say Enron..no wait..how about the oil companies charging fair prices and NOT making any profit(eering).No wait..how about having the public sector bosses making the private sector salaries...no wait..umm..wow..I think my blinders are off now..

It's amazing that people still believe that the only people in health care are doctors, nurses, cooks and laundry workers. When you go to the hospital, who are you looked at by first? Who takes the blood? Who hooks up the machines? Who -- and the list goes on. It isn't the doctors, and lots of times it isn't the RNs. It's those cooks and laundry workers I guess. Some people's attitudes is unbelievable. Talk about brainwashed by the lieberals.

Last I looked the 180,000 people who could not find a doctor didn't have a problem finding a cook or a toilet bowl cleaner. Of course the NDP do not discuss the 180,000 people who do not have a doctor because they created the situation by not training any more doctors in the first place. Ten years and they did not add one single space. Pathetic.

The NDP is happy to discuss the 6 people who might have to drive an extra 40 minutes for a care bed, and yet they will not take a position on the hundreds of thousands of people who waste over 40 minutes a day trying to get across the Port Mann.

I think Carole has become afraid to take a position lest she have to flip flop off it the moment some public sector union cries fowl. Who really runs the NDP these days?

Kevin and Ron, the HEU are not only cleaning and kitchen staff,(they were all FIRED, remember?)they are LPNs, MOAs, pharmacy techs, sterile processing techs, lab techs, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, unit clerks, orderlies, and many more, and these people have all have post secondary education to get hired, and they deserve to be treated with respect, and they were the ones who took the biggest hit with wage rollbacks (I lost over $3.00 per hour) I just wish people would stop lying about the HEU being only cleaners and kitchen staff, because we are not. I feel doctors and nurses (and HSA)deserve everything they can get, but I feel we deserve at least the same as the BC Hydro people who got 10% over 4 years (2,2,3,3) while we have been offered 1.5% for the first year, and 1.75% for the next 3 years. Is this fair? After what happened to us?

bon, why would an electrician or plumber work in the HEU ? Anyone that stupid deserves what they get. They could be making 40% more in private industry.
No sympathy here.

Ron, why don't you ask them yourself if you cared (what a joke) but what about everybody else? Liar Gordo makes the public think we are uneducated overpaid housekeepers/toilet cleaners and it is not true. Basically, everyone in the HEU has taken some kind of post secondary education to get their job, I had to go to school to get my job (10 months or 1 full school year)and I am tired of people like you insulting me, I get enough disrespect from the government.

Kev, it's pretty obvious you haven't had too many dealings in health care. Your day will come and believe me, it isn't pleasant. I have been trying to deal with the "health care professionals"/"government bureaucracy" for months now regarding a relative of mine and it's shameful what is happening. And you know what, it's not the "toilet cleaner" or the "cook" who is the grief in the system. To those so against the "other workers" in the health care system, your time will come so be prepared, because if you're not, you too will be shipped somewhere, if you make it that far.

I just wanted to add, that even the doctor involved is disgusted with the government and privatized facility, but feels obligated to the people he is looking after.

You also may not be aware that this government changed or made new laws to protect themselves, and the profiteers in the private system from being sued by anyone for the wrongdoings, mismanagement, or deaths of patients.

So someone tell me how we could get away with paying GPs less than the current rate--a bit shy of $28. per office visit. (While I was in Mexico earlier this year, I noticed the basic fee for service was pretty much the same there; however, Mexican doctors can charge for extras.)

Currently, the average GP--read the fine print--will see a gross increase of about 2% a year but only if he maintains the current breakneck schedule of about 6 patients an hour (which, because of other time consuming but unpaid duties associated with patient care and office management, translates into about 30 patients or so per day). The negotiated increases, except in targeted areas, have been largely irrelevant; squeezing the time frame

All of the overhead--staff salaries, office supplies, rent, pensions, vacation time, sick leave--has to come out of that $28. (soon to be $28.50), I guess.) They also carry a growing overload of time wasting lawyers.

In fact, if the doctors were to insist on working to the standards that most of us enjoy
then we'd need mobs more of them.

Maybe someone can explain why a top flight professional should be expected to manage a person's healthcare for less than the $28.50 gross fee that's presently on the table. Tell me what the vet charges for examining your dog while your at it.

A few years ago, the government proposed to send each patient a copy of his or her bill for physician service after each office visit. The officials dropped the plan when they discovered how low the fee actually was.

So someone tell me how we could get away with paying GPs less than the current rate--a bit shy of $28. per office visit. (While I was in Mexico earlier this year, I noticed the basic fee for service was pretty much the same there; however, Mexican doctors can charge for extras.)

Currently, the average GP--read the fine print--will see a gross increase of about 2% a year but only if he maintains the current breakneck schedule of about 6 patients an hour (which, because of other time consuming but unpaid duties associated with patient care and office management, translates into about 30 patients or so per day). The negotiated increases, except in targeted areas, have been largely irrelevant; squeezing the time frame

All of the overhead--staff salaries, office supplies, rent, pensions, vacation time, sick leave--has to come out of that $28. (soon to be $28.50), I guess.) They also carry a growing overload of time wasting lawyers.

In fact, if the doctors were to insist on working to the standards that most of us enjoy
then we'd need mobs more of them.

Maybe someone can explain why a top flight professional should be expected to manage a person's healthcare for less than the $28.50 gross fee that's presently on the table. Tell me what the vet charges for examining your dog while your at it.

A few years ago, the government proposed to send each patient a copy of his or her bill for physician service after each office visit. The officials dropped the plan when they discovered how low the fee actually was.

For those of you who feel strongly that doctors make more money than they should, consider that if you made remuneration commensurate with responsibility, work hours, exposure (to communicable disease, volatile lawyers, human misery and suffering, etc), and knowledge base then doctors are actually ridicuously UNDERpaid. Preventing doctors from making more money are the closed-minded opinions and lobbying power of dim-witted folks, such as some of the authors of the above notes, who feel doctors are overcompensated. Let face if folks, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that a doctor finishing residency at age 36, who is 150k in debt (average figure), who will require 1-3 years before he breaks even with practice overhead, and MAY reach 200k - 300k per year by age 40, only to LOSE 30% off the top to overhead, and get taxed OVER 40% on the rest, is hardly at a financial advantage. Not to mention the unreasonable time commitment during residency training (over 100h per week - you think that'll take a toll on your life??) Ah, if the public only knew..... There is no reasonable argument that can be made that doctors are overpaid - I challenge anyone to dispute this.

Leave a comment

Copyright © 2004 - Public Eye Mediaworks. Reproductions of any portion of this Website are permitted only with the expressed permission of Public Eye Mediaworks.
Canadian Web Hosting graciously provided by dotcanuck Web Services. Layout and graphics courtesy of Art Department Design.