Report finds doctors cashing in despite strapped health-care system

CALGARY, July 31, 2013 /CNW/ - The price of health care in Canada continues to rise, and with today's physicians earning nearly four-and-half-times that of the average Canadian, one source of that increase is doctors themselves.

A report published today by The School of Public Policy, written by Hugh Grant and Jeremiah Hurley, takes an in-depth look at the drastic rise in physicians' pay over the last 50 years, including its causes and what government can do to reverse this trend.

"In constant dollars, today's average Canadian physician is earning about 30 per cent more than he or she was just a decade ago," the authors write. "All of this has occurred while physicians have actually provided slightly fewer services to patients."

The current system for determining physician remuneration is built on collective bargaining, where provincial governments and medical associations negotiate increases in fee levels for physician services. Grant and Hurley argue that over the years, "Doctors have succeeded in outmaneuvering governments, marshaling greater public support for higher pay for their work." This led to the average Canadian physician earning a net income of $248,113 in 2010.

But, the question remains whether increased physician incomes have yielded better health services to the public at large. The current system entrusts medical associations with the allocation of funds across the health-care system; however, as the authors indicate, money does not necessarily flow to areas that match public health goals because government is removed from this process.

As the report points out, some provincial governments have already reached their breaking point and have taken a stand against mounting physician incomes. For example, Ontario was recently able to freeze remuneration for doctors in a negotiated contract deal and Alberta shortly after imposed a unilateral settlement on its doctors after breaking off negotiations.

Grant and Hurley stress the need for policy makers and physicians to collaborate on building a new model for funding physicians' work, one that is in line with the fiscal realities faced by government and that assures public health objectives are met.

The report can be found at

Video with caption: "Video: Professor Hugh Grant argues that physicians' incomes have become too high given the financial troubles facing Canada's health-care system". Video available at:

SOURCE: The School of Public Policy - University of Calgary

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Media contact:
Morten Paulsen

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The School of Public Policy - University of Calgary

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