Ottawa has cut the rate of growth of its contributions to the provinces for health care by about 15 percent. Well before the cuts, doctors’ incomes were losing ground to those of other professional groups, the Medical Association says. It cited tax figures indicating that between 1971 and 1977 lawyers, dentists and accountants increased their incomes at a much faster rate than doctors. In Ontario, according to an association spokesman, the average net income for a doctor is about $53,000 a year. The doctors want their yearly incomes increased to well over $100,000 in some cases, and Mr. Geekie acknowledged that it was difficult to get support for this from ordinary Canadians making much less. Talks Break Down, Then Resume Ontario doctors were particularly upset last week when the provincial government tried to impose new fee schedules when negotiations with their representatives broke down. Although there have been further talks since then, many doctors saw the government’s move as the start of a process that could lead to state medicine and the transformation of doctors into salaried civil servants. The present Ontario fee schedule allows about $7.80 for an ordinary office visit, about $114 for an appendectomy and about $230 for complete obstetrical care over 11 months. Ontario has been proposing to raise these fees by some 10 percent a year over three years, while the Ontario Medical Association has been demanding twice that amount so doctors can ”catch up” with inflation. Talks in the last few days have narrowed the gap somewhat, and there was a possibility of an accord over the weekend. In Ontario 15 percent of the doctors do not participate in the system at all and charge what they like. Their patients recover part of the costs from the Ontario Health Insurance Program, to which almost all Canadians belong for about $19 a month for a single person and about $38 a month for a family; this fee also covers hospital costs. Some Bill for Extra Amounts Most doctors in Ontario and the rest of Canada accept the present system of publicly financed medicare because it helps to assure them of a minimum income. But in some provinces doctors are billing for amounts beyond those prescribed in the schedules. In Quebec, where the agitation is expected to continue and perhaps even spread from general practittioners to specialists, extra billing is prohibited.
Canadian doctors barred from performing ‘virginity tests’
The Montreal Gazette reports the Quebec College of Physicians issued the decree after two University of Montreal ethics specialists were alerted by school staff to separate incidents involving the matter. Imagine a doctor who does a gynecological examination with the sole purpose of … it goes beyond the imagination. And its degrading to women, Charles Bernard, president of the College des medecins, told The Gazette. The Quebec College of Physicians is, among other things, responsible for dispensing ethical guidance on medical issues for its many member physicians. The Gazette writes University of Montreal ethicists were contacted by a clinic nurse after a young woman asked the health professional during a routine medical exam whether, she was still marriageable. But by then, it seems the ethicists were already grappling with the issue. Two weeks prior, the same researchers reportedly fielded a call concerning an adolescent whose family had forced her to undergo a chastity test at a local clinic. The girl subsequently told her school nurse, who then contacted the university. We got the impression that the physician was pressured by the family in the emergency room. The father was very insistent about having the certificate, and to get rid of the problem, the doctor did it, University of Montreal researcher Marie-Eve Bouthillier reportedly said. The Gazette writes Canadian officials have focused on the issue of late, or since the bodies of four women of Afghan descent were discovered in Ontario in 2009. They were reportedly murdered by relatives in so-called honor killings.