Quebec specialists earn $36K more than those in Ontario, with another raise on the way

More than a decade after reaching a deal with the province to bridge the gap between their salaries and those of their Ontario counterparts, Quebec medical specialists now earn far more — and they're poised to get a generous raise. The health minister says Quebec has no choice but to pay up.

Specialists federation to get another $500M in March, health minister says Quebec has no choice but to pay up

Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette said Quebec has no choice but to make good on a deal it reached with specialists in 2007, even though those specialists now earn significantly more than doctors in every Canadian jurisdiction except for P.E.I. and Yukon. (CBC)

More than a decade after reaching a deal with the province to bridge the gap between their salaries and those of their Ontario counterparts, Quebec medical specialists now earn far more than their neighbours — and they're poised to get a generous raise.

Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, the man who negotiated that catch-up contract in 2007 as head of the federation of specialists, says Quebec is bound to the terms of that deal and has no choice but to pay out the final installment.

"There were no provisions in the contract enabling either party to reopen the contract," Barrette said Thursday.

He said in 2007, when that deal was signed, no one could have foreseen that Ontario and Alberta would claw back specialists' salaries significantly, leading to the disparity that exists today.

"Since what was predicted did not happen, obviously Quebec doctors ended up in a favourable situation."

Another half a billion on the way

The Quebec government had been withholding some of the money the province's 10,000 specialists are still owed under the terms of that 2007 deal.

Last week, it reached an agreement to pay out an undisclosed amount by March 31.

Sources have told Radio-Canada that close to $500 million will be divided up among the doctors. (The amount each doctor will receive depends on their specialty.) 

As part of that deal, the specialists will also reportedly receive another in 11.2 per cent in salary increases by 2023.

Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée said the salaries paid to Quebec specialists can't be justified, under any circumstance. 'The cost of living in Quebec is 12 to 15 per cent less than Ontario's,' he said. (CBC)

Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée called the specialists' earnings unjustifiable.

"Even if they earned the same as those in Ontario, it would be too much," Lisée said. "The cost of living in Quebec is 12 to 15 per cent less than it is in Ontario."

$36K wage gap

According to data compiled by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, medical specialists in Quebec make, on average, $403,537 a year, compared to $367,154 in Ontario.

Specialists in B.C. make slightly more than those in Ontario, coming in at $367,807.

No data was available from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nunavut and Northwest Territories.

According to statistics compiled by the Quebec's public health insurance board, RAMQ, radiologists are the highest paid of the province's medical specialists, earning an average of $697,142. 

Meanwhile, neurosurgeons earn an average of $480,934.

With files from Angelica Montgomery and Radio-Canada's La Vérif