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Dr. Brendan Lewis is president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association. ((NLMA))

The leader of Newfoundland and Labrador's doctors says their contract with the province will likely expire this month before a new one is negotiated.

The current four-year deal, which started with a two-year pay freeze, expires Sept. 30.

The association that represents the province's doctors says it won't speak publicly about negotiations. But CBC News has obtained a letter that Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association's president, Dr. Brendan Lewis, wrote his colleagues.

"Talks began with officials from Treasury Board and Health in April, but the frequency and pace of our face-to-face discussions with government has been much slower than we would have liked," wrote Lewis.

"Given this circumstance, it is unlikely that we will be able to conclude a new agreement before the current memorandum of agreement expires."

Reached by phone, an NLMA official told CBC news it's not unusual for the doctors' contract to expire before a new agreement is reached.

Doctors are seeking pay increases to ensure the province will attract and keep more physicians.

11 'essential elements'

Last spring, CBC obtained a document outlining what Newfoundland and Labrador's more than 1,000 doctors were looking for in negotiations.

The medical association says pay should be more competitive with physicians' wages in other parts of the country. The doctors want compensation that would put them in the top 25 per cent of what physicians are paid in Atlantic Canada.

The medical association outlines 11 "essential elements" it says must be part of a new deal. The list was given to the government on May 22.

In their last contract, doctors accepted a two-year wage freeze, followed by increases of three per cent in each of the next two years. Doctors say that kind of deal can't happen again.

Newfoundland and Labrador's doctors are among the lowest-paid in Canada.