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Why so many Quebec doctors are joining the private system


Quebec's healthcare system is in dire need of more doctors, and it appears one of the biggest hurdles is keeping practitioners from going private.

More than 500 doctors in the province have left the public system, according to the FMOQ, a federation of general practitioners in Quebec.

The FMOQ's Dr. Guillaume Charbonneau says the reason family doctors are leaving is complex.

"They leave because of the constraints of the system, because of the burden of the work in the public system," he told CTV News. "They leave because they want a better quality of life."

He said there are currently 700 spots available in the public sector as doctors choose the private system, which offers more flexibility, or opt for specialties that have better working conditions.

It's a problem that has been years in the making, according to Dr. Neb Kovacina, a family doctor and professor at McGill University's Faculty of Medicine.

"I would say in the last 10 years, the options that they have in the private system look more acceptable and attractive. When I graduated 16 years ago, going into private practice was sort of taboo," Kovacina explained.

Quebec's private model is unique in Canada.

In Ontario, for example, charging more for services covered by the provincial plan is illegal. But here, clinics can charge what they want -- and Kovacina says it costs the public system in the long run.

"It's basically like skimming off the wealthy and healthy and leaving the more complex cases to the public system," he said.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said the government is doing what it can to reduce the administrative burden on doctors and increase spaces in medical schools.

But that won't make a dent in the problem, the FMOQ says, unless the public system changes significantly.

"We need to change the way we do things. We need to make it more accessible for the patient and more healthy for the people who work in the system," said Charbonneau. Top Stories

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