Quebec's health minister says he is "scandalized" that surgeons and anesthesiologists get bonuses just for arriving at work by 8 o'clock in the morning.
But Gaetan Barrette said Friday he can't do anything about the policy because the money comes out of an overall budget and that it is up to doctors to determine how it is spent.
Ironically, Barrette was head of the federation representing specialist doctors in 2010 when the deal was struck.
Le Journal de Montreal reported Friday the province's surgeons and anesthesiologists shared $86.1-million over the past three years for getting to work on time in the morning and staying later in the afternoon.
That translates into an average of more than $19,500 a year for anesthesiologists and more than $7,500 for surgeons – or $105 a shot for morning duty.
The practice also extends to surgeries that occur between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. when there is a bonus of $84 an hour, the newspaper said.
The bonuses are aimed at ensuring operating rooms are up and running early in the morning.
"I was scandalized when I was on the other side (with the doctors' federation) and I'm still scandalized,' Barrette said, adding that many of his former colleagues are driven by money.
A member of the opposition Coalition party asked Barrette whether he was going to eliminate the bonus.
"This morning, there are hundreds of thousands of workers who arrived at work on time or ahead of time and who will not receive a bonus for their punctuality," Francois Paradis said in the legislature.
"Because it's normal to arrive on time."
But Barrette said the money comes out of the overall pot that is determined between the government and the respective medical groups and that the latter decide how the money will be spent.
Jean-Francois Courval, the head of the federation that represents the province's anesthesiologists, said the incentive to get in by 8 a.m., as well as to stay beyond 3 p.m., had led to a spike in the number of operations.