MacFARLANE: A chance to push the reset button on healthcare

June 04, 2019 at 8:17 am

I’m not entirely sure what makes someone decide they want to be a doctor but I can say pretty confidently that feeling overworked, under-resourced and paid less than doctors in any other province in Canada is not what you sign up for.

Well, it won’t be any surprise that this has been the reality for Nova Scotia’s doctors for far too long.

Doctors Nova Scotia and the Liberal government are in the process of renegotiating Master Agreement on physician salaries.

The last Master Agreement with physicians covered the 2015 to 2019 time period. That “negotiation” ended with the McNeil Liberals freezing wages for two years and giving meagre increases of only 1 and 1.5 per cent in the final two years.

Lowest pay- highest tax. It’s no wonder doctors across the province are packing up and leaving.

It’s clear that the Liberal government didn’t treat those negotiations as an opportunity: an opportunity to attract more physicians or an opportunity to demonstrate to the physicians who are here, on the front lines, that they are valued by raising their salaries.

With the expiration of the Master Agreement on March 31, 2019, there is another opportunity for the Liberal government. This contract will most certainly send a message to physicians.

I’m not saying that pay is the only factor here. Far from it. Frankly, if it were just about pay, I don’t think there would be a single doctor left here.

This is about showing doctors that their commitment to providing care and the sacrifices they make are respected and valued.

However these negotiations play out, there is no doubt that this contract will send a message to physicians that will affect how we recruit and retain doctors well into the future.

I, like every Nova Scotian who is struggling to access primary care, hope that the Liberal government won’t make the same mistake, but will take this opportunity for what it is: A chance to push the reset button on healthcare.


Karla MacFarlane