HEU supports move to recall legislature to deal with renegade doctors, and fast track new health dollars to health authorities

News release

The Hospital Employees’ Union says Premier Ujjal Dosanjh made a smart move in recalling the legislature for Sunday to deal with two legislative initiatives that will put pressure on hundreds of renegade physicians to return to the bargaining table to negotiate an incentives package settlement within the overall $40 million envelope established by government.

“The announcement of the inquiry into physician bargaining will help deal with the short-term problem and in the long run should prevent physicians from being able to walk away from signed contracts, which is at the root of the current dispute,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

“I think the move is another sign the NDP is embarking on a much more aggressive approach to health care issues and to implementing progressive measures that will help modernize Medicare. It’s a signal that Premier Dosanjh is preparing to be equally aggressive on the issue of privatization and private surgical clinics.

“And the debate around supplementary estimates for the $300 million in new health care funding announced Sept. 13 by the Premier, shows the government’s committed to getting the new dollars to health authorities across B.C.,” Allnutt says.

On the doctors dispute, Allnutt says the average $40,000 retention package rejected by rural physicians is a lot of money — more than the average British Columbian makes in an entire year. “That’s part of the reason public support for the physicians is on the wane — a fact our recent polling confirms.

“Like all health care providers, doctors have legitimate workload concerns. But the solutions go beyond increasing physician incomes,” says Allnutt.

“We encourage doctors to get back to the bargaining table. And we invite them to work with other health care providers to advocate for viable long-term solutions like community health centres, greater use of Licensed Practical Nurses and enhanced home support that will help modernize public Medicare.”