Doctors on strike in Newfoundland

Newfoundland and Labrador doctors have gone on strike, leaving hospitals to carry the workload.

An escalation of a physicians strike in Newfoundland is not out of the question, says the province's medical association.

More than 900 doctors went on strike Monday at midnight, cancelling appointments and non-essential medical treatments.

Dr. John Haggie, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, said salaried physicians could also walk off the job. They are currently working to rule.

There are about 300 doctors working on salary, about one-third of the medical association's membership.

So far, there are no talks scheduled between physicians and the provincial government.

Emergency rooms in St. John's were quiet on Tuesday. But hospital officials say if the withdrawal of services continues, things can only get worse.

Doctors, province clash over salaries

There's no sign of a resolution, with both sides embroiled in a dispute over how much money doctors should get.

Newfoundland's doctors are the lowest paid in Canada.

The provincial government says it's already offered doctors an increase that would bring them up to par with doctors in the Maritimes.

"Our latest offer would give a family doctor who currently earns on average $184,000 a raise of $61,000 annually," said Newfoundland Finance Minister Joan Marie-Aylward.

But the physicians association calls the province's numbers "a work of fiction." So do many doctors.

Dr. Ted Rosales has been a pediatrician in the province for 33 years. The province calculates the average salary in his field at more than $200,000. He says that's just not right.

"If we don't change the way things are now, a lot of the young people will be going away. It's a matter of economics," he said.

On Wednesday, an independent accountant will look at all the figures and try to settle the numbers dispute.

The medical association says then, maybe, talks can resume.