Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia doctors reach agreement in principle with province

The province of Nova Scotia has reached an agreement in principle with Doctors Nova Scotia, which has been negotiating a new contract on behalf of physicians for about a year.

Doctors Nova Scotia says some details to be worked out, 'optimistic' about reaching tentative deal

According to the province, the group representing doctors will meet with physicians across the province over the next several weeks to discuss the agreement in principle. (iStock)

The province of Nova Scotia has reached an agreement in principle with Doctors Nova Scotia, which has been negotiating a new contract on behalf of physicians for about a year.

The group that represents more than 3,500 physicians in Nova Scotia says the agreement in principle sets out the terms for new four-year contracts to support patient care. 

The province says details of the agreement will not be made public until after it is ratified.

"We are very happy with this. This is one that we all gave a little and found what I believe is an agreement that is fair to doctors and health care providers, as well as it is to the government," Premier Stephen McNeil said Friday morning.

11 months of negotiations

A spokesperson for Doctors Nova Scotia says there are some details yet to be finalized and the organization's board of directors will be reviewing the contracts in the next few weeks before they go to members to decide on ratification.

There was no commitment to or endorsement of ratifying the agreement in the group's statement.

"We are optimistic that we will reach a tentative deal," Barbara Johnson said. "This is an important milestone reached after 11 months at the negotiations table." 

Premier Stephen McNeil says the province is pleased to reach the agreement in principle after almost a year of negotiations. (CBC)

Possible ratification in June

McNeil says the deal will soon be communicated to members of Doctors Nova Scotia and ratification will take place late next month. 

The last agreement with physicians expired on March 31, 2015.

McNeil did not give any details about possible wage increases, but said "I felt we'd set a pattern a while ago."

The premier also said he believes other labour groups will view the deal "as being fair and consistent" with other negotiations.

He said the province has paid $326,000 so far to Halifax lawyer Jack Graham of McInnes Cooper to assist with the negotiations.

'Fluffy' announcement

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie called the announcement of the agreement in principle "fluffy" because it lacked details and he criticized the government for not releasing the proposed deal or the possible salary packages.

"Nova Scotia taxpayers are paying the bill and they deserve to see what they're getting for their money," he said.

"People who don't have family doctors want to know what the plan is to recruit them here. Unless we have those details, the government is just hiding behind a black wall and Nova Scotians will continue to be frustrated."

Doctors Nova Scotia, by the numbers:

  • 2008 to 2015 — The time period for the last payment agreement between doctors and the Nova Scotia government.
  • 382 — Number of people in Nova Scotia per physician. The province has the most physicians per capita in Canada
  • 4 — Per cent of annual wage increases for 2013-14 and 2014-15
  • $318K — Average billings per physician
  • $251K — Average billings per general physician
  • 35 — Per cent of physician cost increases between 2003 and 2013.

(Source: Doctors Nova Scotia Economic Forecast 2014)

With files from Shaina Luck, Paul Withers