According to a Montreal Economic Institute survey on mixed medical practice - Quebec is depriving itself of the equivalent of 790 medical specialists on weekdays

    MONTREAL, April 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Quebec could reduce waiting lists for
medical specialists and maximize their supply of available hours if they were
allowed to work both in the public sector and in the private sector, and this
would add the equivalent of 790 full-time medical specialists on weekdays.
    In an Economic Note published by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI),
economist Julie Frappier, one of the authors of this survey on mixed medical
practice, states that "more than half (51%) of medical specialists are willing
to work four hours a week in the private sector, even though 68% of them would
favour the government imposing a minimum of 35 hours of work per week in the
public sector before they could provide hours in the private sector."
    Marcel Boyer, MEI vice president and chief economist, concludes that
"Quebec has the resources to increase access to health care. As long as the
opening to greater private sector participation - while preserving the
government's role in insurance - continues to be blocked, the waste of
resources will continue." The text of the Economic Note is available free of
charge at

    Doctors willing to work more

    The results of the survey of medical specialists shows that, in addition
to being interested in working in the private sector in the daytime on
weekdays, 38.6% and 30.4% of them, respectively, are willing to provide an
average of nearly four hours on weekday evenings and weekends. This would
amount to adding 740 full-time specialists on weekday evenings and 1,924 on
weekends. Allowing medical specialists to work both in the public and private
sectors would thus largely help fill the shortage of specialists.

    Under-use of resources

    Last June, the MEI noted in a survey that 54% of nurses are willing to
work on weekdays in the private sector in addition to their normal workweek in
the public sector. In December 2007, another MEI survey revealed that
operating rooms in Quebec hospitals are used at 50% of their capacity on
    Many measures will be needed to correct the shortage of medical
specialists. However, the provincial health care systems still operate largely
within the framework of the Canada Health Act, which runs counter to reforms
that could improve access and alleviate pressure on taxpayers.
    Canada lags behind most other OECD countries in access to medical
specialists. Many European countries, such as France, Germany and Sweden, have
mixed health systems, with private health care providers able to make a major
contribution to public health, increase the efficiency of the system and
reduce waiting lists quite considerably.

    Methodology of the survey

    The sample that was examined consists of 581 medical specialists. The
survey used two forms: a comprehensive questionnaire posted on the Web and a
shorter questionnaire emphasizing the parameters of reserve time supply. The
latter questionnaire was sent to doctors through medical specialists'
associations which agreed to send the questionnaire to their members by
    The presidents of the associations affiliated with the Federation of
Medical Specialists of Quebec (FMSQ) were approached to solicit their members'
participation. Following a review of literature on the subject, 19 interviews
were conducted with various presidents of these associations to validate the
contextual framework of health care and the study's hypotheses. The
questionnaire was approved by five doctors before the study was launched so as
to ensure its pertinence. Quebec medical specialists were then asked to fill
out the questionnaire on a voluntary basis.

    The authors

    The Economic Note titled Medical specialists in Quebec: how to unlock the
reserve supply, was prepared by Marcel Boyer, vice president and chief
economist of the MEI, and Julie Frappier, health economist and holder of a
master's degree in economics from the University of Montreal.

    The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan,
not-for-profit research and education organization. Through studies and
speeches, the MEI contributes to debate on public policy in Quebec and across
Canada, suggesting reforms for wealth creation based on market mechanisms.

For further information:

For further information: and interview requests: André Valiquette,
Director of communications, Montreal Economic Institute, (514) 273-0969 ext.
2225, Cell: (514) 574-0969,

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