Premier Kenney: You’ve “Managed” To Disrespect Every Doctor In Alberta

doctor mask

May 15, 2020

Attention:  The Honourable Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta.  

Dear Premier Kenney,

Thank you for making me feel young again.

Your press conference last Friday “triggered” me.  I felt like a millennial.

Calgary Herald columnist Licia Corbella—a staunch supporter of physicians—asked you whether Health Minister Tyler Shandro would be shuffled out of his portfolio.  You responded with this gem:

“I think he’s been doing an extraordinary job under the most trying circumstances probably for any health minister in modern Alberta history.”

On that we agree, Mr. Premier.

What is extraordinary, however, is the breath-taking incompetence Minister Shandro has displayed in the short time he has held his portfolio.

What is extraordinary is the degree of rancour the Minister has managed to generate between himself and the doctors of Alberta.

What is extraordinary is the complete and utter collapse of trust between doctors and your government—and during a pandemic, for crying out loud.

We know perfectly well, of course, that Mr. Shandro is simply doing your bidding.

But we’ve have had it—up to our collective eyeballs—with politicians constantly smearing the medical profession.

We’ve had it with being painted as money-grubbing parasites.

We’ve tired of being lampooned as greedy, grasping Ebenezer Scrooges—wealthy beyond description but too tight-fisted to give up a solitary dime as Alberta teeters on the edge of financial apocalypse.

We’re fed up with being portrayed as over-stuffed pigs slurping greedily from the public trough while constantly squealing that our generous swill isn’t enough.

I have news for you, Mr. Kenney:  we’re not pigs, but we’ve had our fill.

We’ve had our fill of you trying to turn the public against us by twisting the facts.

Speaking of twisted: there’s an old Twisted Sister song that captures perfectly the zeitgeist of the slandered doctors of Alberta at the moment—We’re not gonna take it anymore.

I’m dating myself a bit by trotting out that golden oldie, I suppose.  Whatever.  I’ve been around.  This isn’t my first rodeo.  I’ve endured politicians of your stripe before.

I will admit to being caught off guard, however, by your assault on doctors.  You fooled me.

I met you in October 2017 at the Calgary Leadership Prayer Breakfast, when you were still plotting your way to the pinnacle of Albertan politics.  Preston Manning was the keynote speaker.  Licia Corbella was there too.

You won’t remember me, but I shook your hand that day.  I knew you would become premier.  At the time I thought you would make a good one.

Sixteen months later I watched you sign a giant placard—the “Public Health Guarantee”—as leader of the newly formed United Conservative Party.  I listened as you vowed to protect health care spending in Alberta.

Then I voted for you to become the premier of Alberta.

I voted for you because you talked a good game.

I voted for you because you stood up for the energy industry in Alberta, because you understood the energy sector’s critical importance to restoring a prosperous economy—an economy that allows all Albertans to thrive, an economy that supports intelligent spending on infrastructure, education, and health care.

I voted for you because you’re a fiscal conservative.

I’m a fiscal conservative too.  But I’m also a doctor, and I understand that fiscal conservatism and robust public health care are inextricably linked: they’re “sisters”, if you will.  A healthy population is a productive population—and that’s good for the economy.

But you’ve twisted those sisters against each other.  That’s bad for Albertans—and bad for the economy.

And prayer will not fix it, Mr. Premier.

You threw out some eye-popping numbers last Friday.

You suggested, for instance, that the average Alberta doctor rakes in almost $400,000 per year.  Then you said this:

And that’s OKAs I say all the time, we value enormously the work of our physicians… We think they should be compensated not only fairly but generously.

But… we cannot continue, particularly with the great fiscal reckoning that Alberta will face following the pandemic—we cannot continue to see annual increases in physician compensation that are typically three to four times higher than inflation.  

Over the past five years, the average Alberta family has seen… their incomes decline after tax by about 10%.  Over the same four to five-year period physician compensation went from $4.5 billion to $5.5 billion!  So we saw, you know, an enormous increase in compensation for one segment of the population.

Let me get that straight:  you value us enormously; on the other hand, we’re selfish bastards.  That’s like embracing us so you can stab us properly in the back, Mr. Premier.

It was a masterful display.  You sounded reasonable, measured, and thoughtful as you methodically demonized us.  Any ordinary Albertan watching that press conference would have been outraged by the naked greed of physicians, and understandably so.

I would have been outraged, too, if I were an ordinary Albertan.  I am pretty ordinary, but—again—I’m also a doctor: I understand a thing or two about the financial realities of being a doctor.

I’ll set aside for now, Mr. Premier, the falsehoods and shameless distortions contained in your response to Ms. Corbella.  I’ll leave others to expose those lies for what they are.

But I do want to explain a few things to you about doctors and money.

It’s a difficult topic for us. Doctors don’t like to talk about money.  We’re not good with money.  What we’re good at it is taking care of patients.

But because we keep our focus on our patients, because we don’t speak up effectively around matters of money, we’ve permitted the false notion of rich, fat-cat doctors to crystallize as reality in the public mind—and in your mind as well, it would seem.

That notion isn’t easily dispelled.  But I’m going to give it a shot.  Perhaps your jaundiced view of doctors is based on honest misunderstanding.  Perhaps you’re genuinely confused about the dollars and cents of doctorhood.

Consider this:  You hired accounting firm Ernst and Young to conduct an audit of Alberta Health Services.  You paid them two million bucks.

No logical person would suggest that all that cash landed in the firm’s bank account as pure profit.  Much of the money went toward defraying the personnel and material costs of conducting the audit.

Only after all those expenses were paid was there money left over to line the pockets of the firm’s partners.

Just as accounting firms and other businesses have expenses, so, too, do doctors.  It’s expensive to become a doctor, but it’s also expensive to be a doctor.

Most medical practices function as small businesses.  They employ Albertans, pay taxes and participate in the economy.  On average, 30% of physicians’ billings go to overhead expenses—rent, staff, equipment, continuing education, malpractice insurance, membership dues, licensing, and so on.

Yet you consistently mislead the public, Mr. Premier, by suggesting that doctors’ billings land in their bank accounts as pure profit.

In 2018 doctors in Alberta billed the government, on average, $380,000.  Thirty percent off the top for expenses leaves pre-tax income of $266,000.

That’s still a lot of moolah—and with a lot of moolah comes a lot of tax.  Taxes trim that number all the way down to $168,000.

Which is still a big chunk of change.  According to Stats Canada, for non-senior families—where the highest income earner is under 65 years of age—the median after-tax income in 2018 was $91,000.  Therefore, Alberta’s doctors took home $77,000 more than the median for Canadian families.

But that ignores the ten to fifteen years doctors spend in education and training, years in which they’re not earning $168,000 in after-tax income; nor are they earning the Canadian median of $91,000.  They’re busy accumulating hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt instead as they slave away to master their craft.

You’re far from the first leader to take aim at physicians, Mr. Premier.  We’re an easy target for unscrupulous and ill-informed politicians.  In 2017, for instance, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau shamefully attacked doctors as money-hungry bloodsuckers—just as you are doing now.

I’ll share a snippet from a letter of protest I penned to Mr. Morneau in September of 2017:

After fourteen years in university and in training, I finally began practice as an emergency physician at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary.

Fourteen years—years that my contemporaries used to develop careers, grow businesses, and start families; years in which they began building nest-eggs for their children’s education, and for their own retirements.

I built a nest-egg of a rather different variety during those fourteen years, composed of an enormous yolk of debt surrounded by an expanding egg-white of interest.

Most doctors “catch up” financially to their non-medical peers by their early to mid-40’s, assuming they work hard and have decent money habits, assuming they don’t become disabled or critically ill, and assuming they don’t take too many breaks to have children.

Albertans are well aware that doctors are paid with taxpayers’ dollars.  But they are unaware that we receive no other benefits:  no sick pay; no disability benefits; no paid maternity leave; no vacation pay; no health and dental benefits; no pension plan.  All of these things we must provide for ourselves.  We are public servants—but with none of the benefits that all other public servants enjoy.

A physician who wishes to retire at age 65 on an income of $60,000 per year must sock away $2 million dollars in retirement savings ($2 million at three percent return equals $60,000).  Assuming a 35-year career, that’s $57,000 per year.

Subtract that from the $77,000 “advantage” calculated earlier, and one is left with twenty thousand bucks as the annual “bonus” for being a doctor—a bonus from which parental leaves, dental bills, sick leaves and so on must be paid.  That’s the bonus for engaging in one of the most demanding and stressful occupations that exist.

(In the interests of remaining relatively calm I won’t discuss the platinum pensions that politicians enjoy, Mr. Premier.  Let me just say that landing one of those bloated, taxpayer-funded, fully-indexed-for-life cash-dispensing beauties is akin to winning the lottery every year for the rest of your life.)

Medicine is an awesome, fulfilling career in many, many respects; but it’s not for the faint of heart. You may be surprised to learn that one in three physicians experience signs of depression; according to a 2018 literature review in the U.S., roughly 40 physicians per 100,000 die by suicide each year—the highest rate of suicide of any profession, and double the rate of the general population.

It’s no surprise, given the load physicians carry, that burnout and mental distress litter the landscape.  Politicians who make a sport of smearing us as selfish jerks don’t make things any easier.

Doctors choose the profession for a variety of reasons.  Some see it as a noble calling to serve others; some are attracted to endless intellectual challenge; some may simply desire a colourful way to fritter away their time on this planet.

But anyone who pursues a career in medicine “for the money” is in dire need of the profession’s most able psychiatrists.

I suspect you know all of this already, Mr. Premier.  Yet you persist in attacking us.

You may be familiar with Hanlon’s razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

I know you’re not stupid, sir.  I know the opposite is true.

That leaves malice as the motivator for your continued assault on the doctors of Alberta.

But from whence does that malice arise?  Why do you hate us so much?

In the legislature last Friday you remarked that your government must better “manage” physicians’ pay once the pandemic is over.

Oddly, you haven’t “managed” to inform the public that fee-for-service doctors presently manning the front lines of this pandemic are being “rewarded” for their service with steep reductions in pay.  (Patient numbers—and therefore billings—have plummeted due to the unprecedented context of this pandemic and the attendant lockdown.)

Those doctors are going to work as always.  People are still getting sick and injured; women are still going into labour; some folks still require urgent surgeries; some unlucky citizens are falling ill from COVID-19.  But despite working with heightened stress and increased risk to themselves and their families, doctors’ pay has been cut, in some cases by 75% or more.  If they become infected with COVID-19, they’re sent home to isolate for weeks—in which case they receive no pay whatsoever.

Doctors’ overhead expenses, I should emphasize, haven’t declined at all.  Which means that many of the province’s doctors are serving during this pandemic for free, or at a loss.  About that you’ve “managed” to say nothing at all.

Nor have you “managed” to tell the public what your government is doing with all the money it is saving by not paying intrepid doctors manning emergency rooms, clinics, and operating theatres.

You haven’t “managed” to articulate that no other essential workers on the front lines—or anywhere for that matter—have taken a pay cut to serve Albertans during the pandemic.

You have managed to do one thing, Mr. Premier, very well indeed: you’ve managed to disrespect us, over and over and over again.

I’ll close this long letter with another musical blast from the past.  Twisted Sister, meet Linda Ronstadt:

I’ve been cheated, been mistreated

When will I be loved

I’ve been put down, I’ve been pushed ’round

When will I be loved

We don’t want your love, Mr. Premier.

But we’ve been cheated, mistreated, put down, and pushed ‘round for far too long.

We’ve had enough.  We’re not gonna take it anymore.

We don’t need your love.

But we demand a little respect.

Sincerely,

 

J. Edward Les, MD, FRCPC

cc The people of Alberta

 

 

47 Replies to “Premier Kenney: You’ve “Managed” To Disrespect Every Doctor In Alberta”

    1. Anonymous is the name of the UCP troll network.
      Disregard because of you won’t put your name to your comment it is worthless.

    2. Well, anonymous – if ” you’re certainly not hurting” refers to doctors – you are the most stupid of stupid horses’ asses. and I certainly hope you will desperately need a doctor to save your sorry old ass someday. That might change your fascist mind . . .

    3. “Anonymous” is quite happy to malign the doctor, but incapable of justifying the response. Gutless (and uninformed)

    4. The voice of ignorance speaking! Did your attention span allow you to actually read the entire article presented by Dr. Les? Because if it had you might have seen how disheartened a vital doctor is feeling right now. He is truthful in his comments about expenses, debt and the little left over to save for his own retirement while he works to save the health and lives of his patients. Think about it! Don’t know how you make your living but not many of us have a more stressful or important job. He is right to chastise premier a Kenney.

  1. Thank you Dr. J. Edward Les for being there for us (the people of Alberta). We value you and all the doctors in Alberta. We also value all of the other health care workers and support staff in Alberta. Thank you also for calling out this most disgusting government that any Albertan has ever seen. Kenney and his UCP government appear to hate all the citizens of Alberta.
    I, and many other Alberta citizens, stand with the doctors and all the other health care workers. We also stand with the teachers and education workers, and all other public service employees that Kenney thinks are unnecessary and has eliminated. I hope that we can take them down and eliminate them for good. Together we can make it happen.

  2. Seems like the article is written because of this.

    It seems like when it comes to jobs, Alberta is the place to go. Not only do they have the highest minimum wage in the country, but they also have the highest average physician salary, sitting at a whopping $380,384/annually. This is well above not only the national average but also the averages of every other province.

    https://www.narcity.com/life/heres-how-much-a-doctor-is-getting-paid-per-year-by-province-in-canda

    https://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/other/alberta-has-highest-paid-doctors-in-canada/vi-AAHVlHf

    1. If you would actually read my essay, then you’ll know that number is NOT physician salary – it’s physician BILLINGS, which is an entirely different thing. Not sure what kind of business you run, but let’s assume it’s landscaping…. you do a large project for a client, bill him $380,000… is that your “salary”? Or do you first pay your employees and your suppliers before you pay yourself?

        1. Anonymous is the name of the UCP troll network.
          Disregard because of you won’t put your name to your comment it is worthless.

      1. you assume “anonymous ” has the reading capability.
        Your article was so well-written, and the logic crystal clear; i don’t know how anyone who actually read it could deliver the response from “anonymous “.

      2. No one pointed out your math error yet. For your self funded retirement package you don’t need 57k a year. I don’t know if that was on purpose or a mistake but compounding interest changes that calculation to somewhere around the 15k a year mark depending on market averages. So you have allowed for 380% more for your retirement package than needed. I want to believe doctors are having a rough time and don’t want a wage cut but maybe you should check your balance sheet before complaining that you don’t have enough money. Also if you did invest 57k a year for 35 years you would end up over the 5 million dollar mark for retirement.

    2. May 15, 2020 at 6:35 pm
      Anonymous is the name of the UCP troll network.
      Disregard because of you won’t put your name to your comment it is worthless.

    3. Too bad Anonymous did not finish reading the narcity article:
      ” that, this is a doctor’s earnings or billables before any fees or expenses they have to pay related to their practices and clinic, which can amount to a lot. And if you still think these doctors salaries are astronomically high just remember that every day, their jobs involve literal life or death situations.”

    4. Conservatives are innately stupid. And thanks for proving that fact ith every post. Reply to this if you’d like a public debate; I’d be glad to accommodate. No balls, gutless, UCP puppets . . . .

      1. Wow! I was almost empathetic, until I saw this statement.
        You do no favors to yourself nor ‘the people of Alberta’ by making divisive statements like this.

  3. You are naive if you think being a fiscal conservative means anything other than destroying public healthcare and public services in general. You got what you voted for.

  4. The conservatives have a long history of attacking public sector, specifically healthcare and nurses in general across all provinces. I support the physicians however I’m also disappointed our physician colleagues couldn’t see this before they became the focus of attacks that we nurses have been focus of every few years and voted this in.

  5. Thank you Dr. J. Edward Les for being there for us (the people of Alberta). I have a message for Premier Kenney; Please, Please, Please don’t continue to mess around with our Doctors and our Health care system. This is not belt tightening. It seems your team makes decisions before they know all the facts and this is a very dangerous way to operate. Every Doctor’s office has overhead. I’m not a doctor but an aging Senior Citizen afraid that when I need her my doctor won’t be there to help me because of your cuts. Please heal your relationship with our doctors and get things back on track.

  6. Some interesting points-May I also add that very many other Albertans are self employed without any extra benefits that come with most wage earners. Many of us have much smaller profit margins and we do so without any expectation of outside appreciation. We, the self-employed, including doctors, will receive CPP on retirement. Doctors will receive much more CPP than most self employed individuals as they actually do have more taxable income. Let’s also mention the extra tax deductions self-employment allows; this can amount to a considerable amount-travel, entertainment, and household utility costs (only mentioning a few).
    This pandemic is proving that Albertans abuse our health care system enormously. The number of doctor visits and emergency department patients has declined drastically. Obviously we Albertans can do with far fewer healthcare supports than we had been abusing prior to Covid 19. This includes PCN, MD and ED encounters.
    All Albertans are going to have to make cutbacks including self-employed Doctors, Dentists, small business owners, and large business owners.

    1. Using your analogy Your complaints illustrate why public support of a failing industry is unsustainable and leaves taxpayers unhappy. Without competition the decisions on bailouts are arbitrarily made by bureaucrats. The market is much better as millions of decisions need to be made yet only a few bureaucrats are around to do the job in a oligarchy. We are using less gas during this pandemic only proving we don’t need as much and therefore should stop supporting a dying industry.
      Anonymous is the name of the UCP troll network.
      Disregard because of you won’t put your name to your comment it is worthless.

      1. Using less gas…..of course we are because thousands of folks are not driving to work…..their business is shut down or bankrupt…..think a little before to type….sheesh!

  7. Your complaints illustrate why a public health system is unsustainable and leaves doctors, nurses, patients and government unhappy. Without competition the decisions on pay are arbitrarily made by bureaucrats. The market is much better as millions of decisions need to be made yet only a few bureaucrats are around to do the job in a public system. Under private healthcare doctors would get paid according to what patients think they are worth, not the gov’t. But we won’t go back to private healthcare until the govt goes bankrupt like the Soviet Union as people think they are getting something for nothing.

    1. The only ones in Alberta getting something for nothing are the big oil and gas owners. It sounds like you prefer socialism for the rich and nothing for anyone else. We no longer have democracy in Alberta as Kenney has created a totalitarian kleptocracy. I say that we need to stop being the Koch teat and make the .01% start paying taxes. The Soviet Union is an oligarchy and that is what the billionaires in the western world want here. Sorry, if you do not have over $20 million, you are no different than the rest of us and would then be working against yourself. If you are one of the rich, shame on you.

  8. It sounds like a classic case of someone who voted for the leopards-eating-people’s-faces party, and was surprised when leopards ate *his* face. It was always clear that the UCP was going to hurt nurses, teachers, students, pregnant women, religious minorities, indigenous people, LGBTQ folk, people with disabilities, immigrants, TFWs, drug addicts, the homeless, the environment (global and local), the arts communities, higher education & research, wilderness parks, and probably a hundred other constituencies I’ve forgotten about. You thought that the UCP wouldn’t attack you, and you guessed wrong.

    I glad that you’re opposing these cuts. I wish you could have joined the rest of us before it affected you personally.

    1. So much this. Fully on board when he thought it only be *other people* who would suffer. Now that the crosshairs are trained on him, it’s all just so unfair, insulting, and disrespectful. I agree with every point he makes, but it all falls a bit flat when one considers that he got exactly what he voted for.

    2. This is the best comment on here. Kenney was clear from the beginning that his version of “fiscal” conservatism meant slashing public supports to fund tax cuts for wealthy corporations. Glad they’ve seen the light, but it’s sad that it took them being personally affected to start caring about other people.

      1. The health system has had a long history of leaning to socialist governments.
        Balancing the books affects everyone. I don’t see the police force or fire-fighters complaining. Everyone’s taking a pay cut.
        This is not about attacking the health system. This is about curtailing spending.

  9. Thanks for informing us Ed and setting out a clearer understanding of what is going on with physicians’ funding. Minister Tyler Shandro is a total disaster in this portfolio. Kenney is no better. Hopefully, the government will return to the bargaining table very soon. I predict a mass exit of doctors to other providences if this is not sorted out.

  10. I will be straight to the point. Severe criticism backed with emotion is acceptable and sometimes what you need to get your point across. You have a strong case. This being said, you were leading the reader in the same way an attorney may lead a witness. You put forth pretenses that Jason Kenny is a malicious individual who concludingly must hate health care professionals as a precurser to his policies. This did not entice me to keep reading, although I did. There are many upstream problems with the economy. I am not from Alberta, although a friend of mine is an Alberta doctor and shared your plea. I hope the sensible things you and my friend have explained become rightfully addressed but understand, although misguided, these decisions do not come from a disdains for doctors.

    1. Then probably, as stated, form ignorance. If you’ve been following the saga of Alberta funding changes, it’s clear they’ve cut not to save money, but in the most efficient and valuable areas so as to hamstring healthcare delivery. If you work in healthcare and understand its very complicated delivery, you will see that there really are only one of two conclusions to be drawn; with gathering evidence of corporate donor benefits as well as CEOs sitting at the table of portfolios they have no expertise in, it becomes evident that Alberta is being sold out from under us. Kenney and his ilk don’t care about our people, and they will abandon as soon as they have ‘golden parachutes.’ It’s maddening. What ever happened to politicians with strong values??

      1. I will look into it more. I trust that Doctors understand the true effects on the ground level much higher than administrators theorize.

  11. Legitimate question here. I respect what you’ve written here but do you think it will be better anywhere else? You do get paid higher here so would it not be still beneficial to stay here? It’s not like theres any good politicians so realistically better the enemy you know.

  12. You have no idea. I wonder if you will ever worry if you or a family member will sit and wait and be bumped, or receive poor care….. I wonder…. and I hope that one day you will. When this happens do not ever think that you have the right to blame me. This is your decision, your mistake. You have ended your political career in this province. YOU .

  13. Well said, but at the end of the day, you got what you voted for. Anyone who looked at Jason Kenney’s history as an MP under Harper knew what they were voting for. He blatantly said he was going to cut taxes and reduce spending. Where did you think these cuts were going to come from? Everywhere except health care? It’s amazing to me the number of people who voted for the UCP who are now complaining about cuts to education and healthcare, as if there are thousands of other redundant public sector jobs to slash? Conservatives in Alberta have never had a good track record of actually being “fiscally” conservative. The Simpsons said it best “But I never thought they’d eat MY face!” Says the person who voted for the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party.

  14. What I don’t understand is, how an educated man such as yourself couldn’t see through all the bullshit. All you had to do was look into Jason Kenney’s previous track record to realize he’s a slimy con artist. His word doesn’t mean anything, because the second something doesn’t fit his agenda he’ll back peddle.

    Was Rachel Notley the ideal person to lead this province? No, and probably far from it, but based on the candidates we had to chose from during the last election, she was probably the best one to lead. Albertans knew where they stood with her, and she was doing her best to grow the economy so the province wouldn’t be so dependent on oil and gas. For anyone to expect her to fix 42 years worth of problems in only four short years was too much to ask. Given another term to run this province, I bet Alberta would be in better shape than it is now. More people would be employed, and our provincial debt wouldn’t be as high a it is today. She actually gave a shit about this province, unlike that con artist running things now.

    Unfortunately, I don’t feel bad for people that voted for that lunatic. If you honestly bought into what Kenney said during his campaign, then you sir are gullible. Next time do some research on the candidates before you vote. Don’t take them at face value, like you did last time. I have the utmost respect for people that work in healthcare and believe they deserve what they’re paid, but if you voted for that con artist and now your job is being threatened, then you only have yourself to blame. At least you’ve realized your mistake and have owned up to it. Hopefully you choose better during the next election.

  15. I as well am a health care professional and I as well agree with most everything this doctor wrote however…I know I won’t be a popular person with this response, but not all doctors make $350k pre tax and overhead. A lot make much more than that…plastic surgeons, cardiac surgeons, radiologists and ophthalmology (I hear are the highest paid doctors in Alberta), etc, to name a few. I’m not discrediting that doctors deserve a high paying salary and monetary compensation for saving lives and all their long hard hours they put in….but I do believe that there is room for some pay cuts with certain services and room for improvement with a fair compensating billing system for all doctors, to be honest. Do I think Kenney is going about it fairly or in the right way, no! But I do think some doctors are overpaid, some…not all. Even as the doctor writing this article, are you not annoyed that an ophthalmologist is getting paid so much more for a cataract surgery than you are being a front line staff member, saving lives? I just believe there is room for improvement, that’s all.

    1. Very true. This goes to show that there are nuances to any problem, public policy or otherwise. However, it’s politically expedient and productive to compress complex discussions into quotable soundbites and bumper sticker slogans.
      I’m assuming some very fundamental similarities between provincial health care in AB vs ON and MB:
      There are definitely scenarios where an objective third party will likely agree that the amount of effort/work/risk taken on by a doctor is not in balance with the remuneration received. Cataract surgery is an easy one to pick on. However, it would also be important to consider if the ophthalmologist has incurred the expense of purchasing the very expensive pieces of equipment and supplies necessary to operate. My guess is no, given that that this is a procedure covered by provincial health insurance and occurs in public health care institutions. If my understanding is false and that the NET income from a day of cataract surgeries is more inline with what most other physicians earn, I’d be happy to pivot my stance.
      The other problem is there are high stress, poor lifestyle, long-gestating (i.e. length of training) specialties where the additional financial incentive is helpful to make sure supply meets demand. The idea that your specialist is in it for the money is not an attractive idea, I know, but what I mean is that the doctor who specializes in xzy purely for the money is rare, this definitely is some intrinsic motivation; but it’s very likely that a doctor with intrinsic interest in two specialties would choose the one with less stress and training if both were financially equal.
      Doctors, having seen the cyclical, now almost constant, negative portrayal and cutbacks, are likely to be very hesitant to negotiate in good faith and willingly accept cuts – we have not perceived the government to act in good faith, and we’re afraid giving that by giving an inch, the government will take a mile. Government needs to control spending, and it’s easy to pick on health care workers.
      Both doctors and government have huge vested interests are this conflict, so the fairest approach could be via a an objective, third-party mediator that considers all the nuances that doesn’t make it into a campaign slogan or public opinion swaying billboard message.

  16. No one pointed out your math error yet. For your self funded retirement package you don’t need 57k a year. I don’t know if that was on purpose or a mistake but compounding interest changes that calculation to somewhere around the 15k a year mark depending on market averages. So you have allowed for 380% more for your retirement package than needed. I want to believe doctors are having a rough time and don’t want a wage cut but maybe you should check your balance sheet before complaining that you don’t have enough money. Also if you did invest 57k a year for 35 years you would end up over the 5 million dollar mark for retirement.

  17. Like many other people who voted UCP in the last election, you failed to ask Mr Kenney for his second paragraph. He’s very glib about making statements like, “we will balance the budget in three years.” But who asked how? I knew how. By drastically reducing services, attacking the public sector union contracts, whacking post secondary funding, and yes reducing payouts to doctors for their services. Let this be a lesson to voters, ask for the second paragraph and don’t stop asking until you get it. Kenney is all show and no go! However, having said all that, there is one point in this treatise that I take exception to. The reference that Trudeau and Morneau attacked doctors as money hungry blood suckers. That is blatantly false and he knows it. The point of discussion here should have focused on the budget proposal to tax physicians differently than they had been in the past. That’s a long way from inferring they are money hungry blood suckers. And of further note that after a lot of back and forth the proposal was dropped which is not very likely to happen with the Kenney as he can never admit to being wrong.

  18. As usual it’s all about the money! Everything in this greedy world is all about the money! It doesn’t matter what the situation is the bottom line is IT”S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY! I thought one becomes a doctor because they care about their patients and have compassion for there fellow man. Maybe you should go over to some third-world country and live in a mud hut for awhile then you might appreciate what you do have.
    Even though I agree with most of what you are saying and that doctors are important and should be paid generously for all the years they put in schooling and training. The problem is we live in a world whose priorities are all messed up; when a sports player can make 10’s of millions of dollars annually for playing a game and someone has to go to school for 12 years for their profession and only make a few hundred thousand annually there is something wrong with this picture. But always remember why you became a doctor to begin with to help people I hope! I hope it’s not all about the money as some things in this world are priceless. I agree doctors are getting the shaft by government maybe if we could all do it over again we would spend more time playing games as children to make the BIG BUCKS! or go to the USA where you can make big bucks playing a game you love and don’t even have to know how to count your money.
    In the meantime keep pressing your issues because this government has a way with caving in to all minority groups in this country! oh ya I forgot only ones that have no commonsense. We all appreciate our doctors in Alberta and hope change is made on your behalf, I know my daughter (as a physician) puts in long hours at work and at home.

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