Quebec's family doctors have voted overwhelmingly in favour of an eight-year deal that will see their pay increase by an average of 1.8 per cent per year.
"We're pleased with this agreement because it is based on a principle that is dear to us: equity," said Dr. Louis Godin, the president of Quebec's federation of general practitioners (FMOQ), at a news conference Friday.
"Equity with Canadian physicians, with specialist doctors, and that's why 96 per cent of our members have accepted this agreement in principle," he said.
FMOQ reached a tentative deal in late August, concluding ten years of friction between the Quebec government and its 9,500 family doctors over the equity issue and government austerity measures.
The general practitioners have long sought to catch up with their Ontario counterparts and to reduce the gap between their salaries and those of Quebec specialists, who earn $409,000 annually, on average.
Godin said with this agreement, the average family doctor will still earn 15 to 20 per cent less than a doctor in Ontario.
$840 million total package
Quebec's general practitioners now earn an average annual income of $245,000. The deal will mean an extra $4,400 annually, on average, bringing their annual average salary to $280,000 by 2023.
In total, the deal will cost the government $840 million — $340 million for the negotiated annual increase and $500 million still owed to the doctors from past agreements.
In all, $63 million is new money, that is, not previously accounted for by Quebec's Treasury Board.
Treasury Board President Pierre Moreau said Friday the agreement puts an end to a decade of to-ing and fro-ing.
"Today's agreement does two things: it settles the government's debts on the funds owed to the general practitioners, totally, and it says, 'We're going to add new money over the next eight years,'"Moreau said on Radio-Canada's Midi Info radio program.