The Associated Press
FREDERICTON, New Brunswick (January 8, 2001 11:35 p.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - Doctors in the Canadian province of New Brunswick turned away patients Monday in a dispute over how much they get paid by government-run health insurance.
No figures were available for how many of the eastern province's 1,300 doctors closed their offices, but some hospitals reported increased activity in their emergency rooms.
At the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton, patients were warned they might have to wait for five hours. A spokeswoman at the Saint John Regional Hospital said it was not clear if the increased workload was related to the strike or January's cold and flu season.
Physicians said the strike put them in an uncomfortable position, but they deemed it a necessary protest of low pay and increasing workloads. Concern for patients made a long protest unlikely, some doctors said.
The New Brunswick government medicare system pays fees to doctors for services rendered. A family doctor in New Brunswick earns about $100,000 annually in medicare billings, which must cover staffing and office expenses.
The government has offered the doctors a fee increase of about 12.5 percent, or $15,333, over four years. The physicians want a 30 percent increase, or $33,333, to bring them up to levels earned by doctors in neighboring Nova Scotia.
by a mediator began Sunday, but no talks were held Monday.