Resident doctors in Saskatchewan have Grudgingly accepted the latest financial offer from the Ministry of Health via the University of Saskatchewan. This is after being without a contract for approximately 28 months, including the first 23 months, where the Government of Saskatchewan refused to negotiate or even meet with the residents. In fact, despite a formal request for a face to face meeting between Health Minister Don McMorris, the University of Saskatchewan, and PAIRS, Don McMorris never actually met with residents.
Saskatchewan resident doctors are now finally paid the Canadian average, amounting to an increase from $10 to $11 an hour over 4 years. This leaves them substantially below their neighbours in Alberta, and is not enough to improve their efforts at recruitment from other higher paid jurisdictions, though it may be adequate to prevent a few more medical students from leaving each year. Residents generally cited feeling “burnt out” and “tired” of ongoing negotiations, and like they could not afford to continue to get by on their prior 2008 level wages. The ill will built by the Saskatchewan Party towards resident doctors is not likely corrected by an increase to “average” and the disdain towards Don McMorris by resident doctors, HSAS and SEIU may be beyond repair.
The government achieved one goal, it settled a labour dispute in only 28 months after it was due and still has yet to use its Essential Services Designation. However, the Sask Party likely has made no dent in its Canada Worst Recruitment Rate, filling 73% of residency spots in Saskatchewan in 2011, when the national average is 90% filled, and Calgary, BC and Manitoba all fill 96% or more of their residency spots. Maybe next time Don McMorris, Brad Wall and company will realize they need to treat valuable health professionals with respect, when resident doctors – like HSAS and SEIU members – can choose to move to Alberta, to make significantly more and pay less in taxes, yet with the same cost of living. To all those who would critique a physician for leaving Saskatchewan, and question their loyalty, it is hard to be loyal to Saskatchewan, when they completely ignore and abuse their medical student interns and resident physicians.
Unfortunately pro-Saskatchewan Party news agencies, like the Leader Post and Star Phoenix, continue to spin the crisis in health care in Saskatchewan, with their respective stories far more positive, neglecting to mention many of the resident’s concerns and not allowing comments.