I just listened to Hance Colburne’s interview with Health Minister Mary Schryer and was utterly appalled by her total ignorance of the underlying issue is the doctor’s dispute. It’s not state-of-the-art equipment, medical schools, or the tax rate. Those are all good things for doctor recruitment and retention and government should continue to invest in those areas. No, the real issue, the sticking point in this whole disagreement, is trust.
Schryer’s government came to a tentative agreement with the Medical Society in December and, after the doctors ratified it, it then unilaterally threw it in the trash can. It passed a law that took away the doctors’ right (under the Canada Health Act) to arbitration, declared any previous tentative agreements null and void, and took away the doctors’ right to challenge any of this law in court (though this hasn’t kept them from trying and, if precedent can be believed, won’t keep them from succeeding). It has wage freeze regulations sitting on the Lieutenant-Governor’s desk waiting to be ratified. And Minister Schyrer honestly believes that doctors will take her invitation to renegotiate their deal seriously, with that Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads?
If you didn’t trust your boss, you’d want to get a new job as soon as you bloody well could, and there’s no reason to think doctors are any different from you and me in that regard. If Mary Schryer is serious about renegotiating with the doctors, and if she wants to continue to recruit a good number of physicians to this province, she needs to give her head a shake and scrap this utterly inane law, at least. If she can’t or won’t, she should get out of the way and let somebody competent run the department. Otherwise, patients and taxpayers will be the big losers.
UPDATE: Here’s a link to this morning’s interview, as aired on CBC Fredericton’s Information Morning program, so you can judge whether the health minister has a point or is just spinning her wheels. I also added the paragraph breaks to make the post more readable.