Text size: Save to mystar BERNARD WEIL / TORONTO STAR file photo Doctors in Alberta made the most $349,655 with Ontario physicians a close second with a gross average salary of $340,020, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Research. On average, doctors made $307,482 in 2010-11, according to a report by the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHI). Thats a 3.1 per cent increase over the previous year, but down from a 5 per cent increase in 2009-10 and a high of 6.9 per cent the year before. Doctors in Alberta made the most $349,655 with Ontario physicians a close second with a gross average salary of $340,020. (The amount doesnt take into account administration or overhead costs.) The latest numbers are the result of a first ever calculation by CIHI and provide the most complete up-to-date picture on what doctors make annually. Previously, the institute calculated averages based on fee-for-service billing, which is the amount paid to a doctor for direct services such as a check-up or vaccination and are based strictly on the volume of services provided. The growth of those fees has been slowing down. In 2010-11 in Ontario, they increased by 2.5 per cent, down from 4 and 5 per cent in previous two years. We have seen a decrease, or slowing growth, in the increase in fee for service payments, says Walter Feeney, who manages the national physician database for physician claims at CIHI. But that figure didnt account for alternative fees received by some doctors who work in emergency departments or on-call, or for payments made to physicians as incentives to take on more patients or work in rural areas. Nor did they include doctors who have negotiated to work on salary instead of fee-for-service. CIHI has now included alternative fees in its calculations. In the last decade, those fees have been growing steadily and now account for more than 25 per cent of what the provinces pay to doctors. Overall in 2010-11, the provinces paid physicians more than $20 billion for clinical services, according to the CIHI report, which put them third in health-care spending, behind hospitals and drugs.
Canadian doctors say fee cuts, pay inequalities will spur exodus
At age 36, Dr. Ashamalla is only now starting his career as a full-fledged specialist in minimally invasive cancer surgery. Ive spent my entire adult life becoming what I am, he said. You watch your friends who go into other professions lawyers, teachers, accountants, business folks and theyre all done, theyre driving nice cars, theyve bought their first homes and theyre working away You do everything you can to not put the pause button on your life, but thats an effort. Related Canadian doctors still make dramatically less than U.S. counterparts: study From the Ferrari pilot to econo-car dad, physicians receive $19-billion from Canadian governments each year. It has been the fastest-growing chunk of health spending in recent years, due both to the swelling ranks of physicians, and fees that climbed an average of nearly 4% a year in the last decade after slipping below inflation earlier. Deb Matthews, Ontarios health minister, this week suggested some doctors are overpaid, and ordered reductions in 37 specific fees. Physicians complain the reductions were poorly selected, will undermine patients access to good care and lead to something Canadians have not witnessed for years an exodus of doctors to the United States. Their dispute revives the question of how well doctors should be remunerated, and underlines dramatic variation in compensation between province and medical speciality. Despite repeated, expensive attempts to more logically divvy up fees, ophthalmologists earn almost 70% more on average than brain surgeons, who take in almost double the income of psychiatrists, according to Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) figures. There are terrible inequities within medicine, said Michael Rachlis, a Toronto physician and health policy analyst. And this has really almost nothing to do with the actual value of services.