Meeting brings hope in N.L. doctors dispute
A meeting between the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association and the provincial government seems to be spawning hope a new deal may be reached within weeks.
Contract negotiations have been stalled since the summer, with salaries the main issue.
Relations between former premier Danny Williams and the association deteriorated as the dispute dragged on.
But Dr. Patrick O'Shea, the president of the medical association, said a meeting Friday with Finance Minister Tom Marshall and Health Minister Jerome Kennedy was noteworthy for its conciliatory tone.
O'Shea said the ministers stressed that with Premier Kathy Dunderdale now in office, the character of the negotiations could change.
The doctors have offered to give up their right to strike in favour of binding arbitration, but this has been rejected by government until now.
O'Shea said the ministers indicated the option may be re-visited.
The medical association bargaining team rejected the province's last contract offer but has asked doctors to vote on it anyway. Ballots are due in by Dec. 13.
O'Shea said formal negotiations won't resume until the voting is complete, but discussions with the province can be held at any time.
He said both sides expressed hope for a deal before Christmas.