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Doctors in Newfoundland and Labrador are being urged by their leaders to reject the government's latest contract offer and prepare for possible job action.  

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NLMA president Dr. Pat O'Shea spoke to hundreds of physicians at a meeting in St. John's on Tuesday. ((CBC) )

Hundreds of physicians were given that message at a meeting of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association Tuesday night. 

 Association President Dr. Patrick O'Shea said attempts to get a deal have gone on too long.

"I think if this deal is rejected it would give a very strong message back to government that we are unable to come to an agreement and at that point then we would look at further action, which will include things like job action," said O’Shea.

It’s the latest turn in the sometimes acrimonious negotiations between the province and government that began more than 22 months ago.

The doctors’ last contract expired more than a year ago.

In early November, 14 salaried specialists resigned, effective in early February, to protest what they said was the government’s unwillingness to offer them fair compensation.

They said the government created a two-tier system when it offered some specialists, including pathologists and oncologists, pay raises in 2008 to try to convince them to stay in the province. The resigning doctors said all specialists should receive equal pay for equal work.

Provincial Health Minister Jerome Kennedy responded that the government accepted the doctors' resignations and would recruit more doctors to replace them.

At the meeting Tuesday, hundreds of family doctors signed a letter to Premier Danny Williams that describes the government's handling of resigning specialists as abusive.

There are more than 1,000 physicians licensed to practice in the province.