Hundreds of doctors in Canada’s Quebec province are upset with the government for increasing their salaries because they feel the money could be spent better. Nearly 600 of them have signed a letter asking the government to roll back the move and spend more on patients and lower-ranking professionals instead.

“We, Quebec doctors who believe in a strong public system, oppose the recent salary increases negotiated by our medical federations,” a petition published on February 25 reads in French. By Thursday, 422 physicians, 159 resident doctors and 167 medical students had added their names to the petition.

The letter calls the increases in doctors’ salaries “all the more shocking because our nurses, clerks and other professionals face very difficult working conditions, while our patients live with the lack of access to required services because of the drastic cuts in recent years and the centralisation of power in the Ministry of Health”.

“The only thing that seems to be immune to the cuts is our remuneration,” the doctors’ group, Médecins Québécois Pour le Régime, said in the letter. They demanded that “resources of the system be better distributed” for the good of healthcare workers and to provide services “worthy of the people of Quebec”.

In an interview to CBC News, the group’s President Dr Isabelle Leblanc said: “If our colleagues are happier, if our patients are getting better care, we’ll all be winners, and it’s not an increase in pay that will do that.”