Dear Dr. Manitoba ,
I hope you are finding time to enjoy our Manitoba summer. I am writing to provide you with an update on how Doctors Manitoba is preparing to negotiate our next Master Agreement with the Province of Manitoba.
Our current four-year Master Agreement expires in March next year. When we look ahead at the next few years, we know this will be a unique and challenging period focused on recovering from the deep disruptions caused by the pandemic. We also hope to see a focus on addressing the long-standing vulnerabilities in our health system that the pandemic exposed. Many of the physicians I hear from are feeling distressed, devalued, and worried about the future of our health care system. Many have also faced unique and unexpected financial pressures over the last two years and are worried about increasing costs of supplies and retaining staff in their practice. We also have a significant physician shortage in Manitoba, and half of our existing members are burnt out.
While the Master Agreement can't solve all of these issues, it can certainly help. Our Doctors Manitoba team have been carefully consulting members and gathering extensive evidence to inform our proposals. This work includes:
- Feedback about economic and professional issues from over 1,700 members through our annual survey earlier this year.
- Collection of practice specific issues through Bloc working groups, alternate funding agreement meetings and regional consultations.
- Identifying health system concerns, particularly those caused by, or exposed during, the pandemic.
- Monitoring the economic environment, including important issues such as inflation and increasing overhead costs.
- Extensive research into physician remuneration in provinces across Canada, as well as recent collective agreements involving other relevant public sector workers here in Manitoba.
Through our extensive consultations, we have heard a clear and consistent message from members about the need to maintain competitive remuneration here in Manitoba, perhaps now more than ever. Our recent survey found 2 in 5 physicians are considering retiring, reducing their hours, or moving to another province in the next three years. This is especially concerning when you consider that Manitoba already had one of the lowest number of physicians per capita in Canada before the pandemic. Competitive remuneration is an important factor in addressing the physician shortage, along with improving the work environment, supporting physician health and wellness, and expanding innovative models of care and remuneration models. There's also a need to further understand and address gender inequities in medical remuneration, something that not only is the right thing to do, but can be a competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining younger physicians.
We see the master agreement as a tool to make progress on many of these topics.
Our priorities for the next Master Agreement are also being guided by what we learned through the pandemic. First, there's a need to make virtual care permanent in Manitoba. Second, the Master Agreement can be a tool to help address the vulnerabilities in our health system exposed by the pandemic. This includes stretched hospital capacity, the massive surgical and diagnostic backlog, and supporting the physical and mental health of physicians.
Over the next two to three months, our team will be finalizing our proposals to submit to the Province early this fall. It's clear there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed, and we know this will come at a time when governments here and all across Canada are dealing with major budget deficits and serious affordability pressures from their citizens. However, we know Manitobans are also very concerned about long wait times and the physician shortage, so we will demonstrate how targeted investments in physician services can stabilize the health care system and deliver better care for Manitobans.
We are optimistic the government and health system leaders will engage in respectful negotiations. In fact, we have been working directly with government officials to set the scene for productive negotiations focused on the issues and priorities that are important to physicians and your patients. But let me be clear, Doctors Manitoba is ready should we face a bumpy road, as our colleagues in some other provinces have faced over the past few years.
In the coming months, we will keep you updated on our progress. In fact, we will soon have a new place to share confidential updates with you. Later this summer, we will be launching our new member portal. This will allow you to log in through our website and view members-only updates, as well as manage your insurance, apply for our benefits and rebates, and subscribe to topics of interest. Stay tuned for a personal welcome package in the mail later this summer.
As always, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your concerns.