Montreal

Medical specialists, Quebec make peace

Quebec medical specialists have voted in favour of a deal to end their dispute with the province over wages.

Quebec medical specialists have voted in favour of a deal to end their dispute with the province over wages.

Specialists will drop all pressure tactics, including their boycott of hospital teaching rounds, in exchange for the government's promise to repeal Bill 37. Adopted in June 2006,itimposes a wage ceiling and work conditions on doctors.

In their general assembly meeting in Montreal on Thursday night, some 1,300 specialists also voted to accept Quebec's financial framework for future salary negotiations, and refrain from turning to pressure tactics until 2010.

The government has repeatedly said it cannot pay more than a 15 per cent wage increase over the next seven years.

Both parties also agreed to mediation in early 2007, to negotiate a new work agreement.

Quebec Health Minister Philippe Couillard described the truce as a victory for Quebecers.

"It's good news first, because the pressure tactics are over in our hospitals, so peace is coming back in our hospitals. We are very happy to hear that."

Many specialists will have a harder time accepting the deal, said Dr. Gaétan Barrette, the federation's president.

"Clearly, it is a victory on our part, but it is very sad to see that Bill 37 will leave scars on our minds. It will leave scars, and it will take time, and we will have to build confidence in the system," he said after the federation's assembly.

Barrette said doctors are still concerned about work conditions in hospitals, as well ashealth-care organization,issues that will be points of discussion in mediation.

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