Quebec’s medical specialists reached an agreement in principle with the Couillard government that will see them get a collective raise of $120 million per year.

The agreement would see the province’s budget for the 10,000 specialists increase from $4.7 billion in 2017-18 to $5.4 billion in 2022-23, and means doctors will get a salary increase of just over 11 per cent by 2023.

The eight-year deal, which was signed last week and made public on Friday, also includes an additional non-recurrent amount of $1.5 billion, to be paid over 10 years, stemming from the previous deal – backpay the government couldn’t afford to pay at the time.

“There was an agreement in in 2007. You remember that in 2008 the whole world had budget problems. Governments had budget problems,” said Arcand.

The Couillard government said the deal will save the province $3 billion as the doctor’s chose to forego a “trailer clause,” which would see them getting additional pay as a result of increases to other collective agreements.

“The trailer clause is an agreement in which, for example, other associations or groups get some increases, automatically, people will get it,” said Treasury Board President Pierre Arcand.

Specialists have agreed to pay for some measures themselves, for example absorbing the cost of ultrasounds in private offices and improving access to MRIs.

“When I look at the overall agreement, I think that under the circumstances we got a reasonable agreement,” said Arcand.

The deal drew fire from political opposition, who said the specialists were getting paid at the expense of general funding for the provincial health care system.

Over the past decade, the goal was to catch up with specialists salaries in Ontario, and Quebec has already surpassed that.

“Taxpayers are paying medical specialists more than necessary and they're trying to make everyone believe it's a good thing,” said CAQ health critic Francois Paradis.


- With files from The Canadian Press