Gavin Parker, a physician in Pincher Creek, with his wife Jennifer and their children. The doctor, who has specialized training and is often on call, will receive about $30,000 less next year. Photo contributed

Doctors’ on-call pay cut expected to hurt rural health care

Gavin Parker, a physician in Pincher Creek, will see a pay cut of about $30,000 next year.

He is a general practitioner with specialized training, just like some of the other doctors at his clinic.

It’s a normal practice among rural doctors to provide wide scope of services to their patients during emergencies.

Rural doctors are receiving a reduced hourly rate to be on call, going from $18.27 to $11.50, because of a revised provincial fee schedule.

Parker said the pay cut will depend on how much on-call work they do.

The impact will be felt in rural maternity wards, he said.

“It could be Olds, it may be in Lacombe hospital, it could be Innisfail – any of the rural hospitals that offer surgical or services, and in particular, provide on-call services for the benefit of rural maternity patients.

“All those doctors are getting an hourly wage cut,” he said Tuesday.

The change will lead to gaps in service, put some people’s health at risk and eventually lead to increased pressure at bigger centres such as the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, said Parker, treasurer at The Society of Rural Physicians of Canada.

“Every single one of your rural hospital that provides C-section backup or maternal programs in their hospital will be affected by this,” he said.

“You will just have fewer and fewer providers in the community, and because you can’t be on call all the time, there’s going to be some gaps.

“Some maternity patients, in particular, will be shifted by ambulances on Alberta’s winter roads, possibly putting both mom and baby at risk,” the husband and father of three said.

Parker is a general practitioner anaesthesiologist and is on call often. The Associate Clinic, where he works, also has two general practitioner surgeons. The clinic is losing one of the surgeons and that means it’s time to recruit someone else.

But recruiting will not be easy with these changes in pay, especially when other provinces, such as British Columbia, pay a significantly higher wage for on-call work.

“It’s going to become more difficult for us to recruit. Rural physicians are probably the most portable workforce that exist.”

Parker, who is satisfied with his compensation, said he understands the province’s finances are not in the best shape and that everyone needs to contribute, but the trouble is these changes affect rural health care by a huge margin.

Rural patients make up 20 per cent of the province’s population.

“These are the people who grow our food, process our oil and build our highways. These are the patients that are going to be left without adequate health care because of these changes.”

The physician does not anticipate these changes to be reversed.

“I imagine there are more and deeper cuts coming to physicians in general, so to be honest, I would be amazed if they made any changes to this,” he said.



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Isaias downgraded from tropical storm as it blows through Quebec

MONTREAL — Environment Canada says Isaias has been downgraded from a tropical… Continue reading

EMS dispatch is being consolidated

Alberta Health Services says EMS 911 dispatch will be consolidated across the… Continue reading

Driver ticketed after insecure load of lumber hits B.C. cyclist on Sea-to-Sky

SQUAMISH, B.C. — A Vancouver man is nursing serious injuries while RCMP… Continue reading

Saskatchewan plans for ‘normal’ return to school, masks not mandatory

REGINA — Saskatchewan plans to bring students back to classrooms under conditions… Continue reading

Two die in Tulameen, B.C., after collapsing in outdoor shower fuelled by propane

THE CANADIAN PRESS PRINCETON, B.C. — RCMP and British Columbia’s coroner are… Continue reading

Protestors for Indigenous Lives Matter gather in Wetaskiwin

Protestors gathered along 56 St Wetaskiwin, Alta. August 4, 2020 for Indigenous Lives Matter.

Lebanese confront devastation after massive Beirut explosion

BEIRUT — Residents of Beirut confronted a scene of utter devastation Wednesday,… Continue reading

David Marsden: Back-to-school plan makes sense

Albertans are wise to propose ways to improve students’ return to classrooms… Continue reading

Michael Dawe: 1971’s destructive hailstorm shattered a great summer

Alberta has been experiencing some interesting summer weather this year. Generally, there… Continue reading

Pete Hamill, legendary New York columnist, has died

NEW YORK — Pete Hamill, the self-taught, street-wise newspaper columnist whose love… Continue reading

Disney to release ‘Mulan’ on streaming service, for a price

“Mulan” is no longer headed for a major theatrical release. The Walt… Continue reading

Wall Street opens higher, following gains in overseas stocks

NEW YORK — Stocks are opening solidly higher on Wall Street, following… Continue reading

The Latest: Norway offers $2.74 and medical aid to Lebanon

BEIRUT — The Latest on the explosion in Beirut (all times local):… Continue reading

Piscotty hits A’s 2nd walkoff slam this year, beats Rangers

Piscotty hits A’s 2nd walkoff slam this year, beats Rangers

Most Read