Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia doctors, province reach 4-year funding deal

The contracts increase compensation for doctors and include measures aimed at improving access to family physicians and rural health care.

Contracts include measures to attract and retain doctors amid an acute shortage

A person is wearing a white doctor's coat and a stethoscope. Only their body is visible.
The new contracts are retroactive to April 1, 2023, and will end on March 31, 2027. (Shutterstock)

The province and the association representing Nova Scotia's doctors have agreed to two new contracts for physician and clinical academic funding.

The four-year agreements will add about $177 million to the provincial budget by the fourth year. 

The physician contract includes changes aimed at attracting and retaining family doctors.

"Our focus has been building a physician agreement that helps to retain our current family physicians and makes … family medicine practice more attractive to medical learners and physicians," said Colin Audain, president of Doctors Nova Scotia, in a news release announcing the agreements had been ratified by the organization's membership.

A new payment model for family doctors will calculate income based on the number of patients in their practice, the number of hours they work and the services they provide. 

Under this model, family physicians can expect to have a more consistent idea of what their income looks like each paycheque. The Department of Health and Wellness says this is a model that younger doctors are looking for.

Funding will also be available for a pilot project allowing family doctors to bill for the services of health-care providers they hire into their practice, such as nurse-practitioners, dietitians or pharmacists. 

Audain said this will "serve to enhance the type of care that Nova Scotians can receive."

Doctor wait-list tops 150,000

About 152,000 people were on the province's family practice wait-list as of July 1, an increase of more than 3,500 from June.

All physicians under the new contract will receive the equivalent of a 10 per cent salary increase over the four years of the contract, according to Doctors Nova Scotia.

How much a physician is paid depends on how many patients they see, what procedures they perform, and whether they qualify for additional money based on where they work and their specialty.

Parental leave will also increase from $1,500 per week for 17 weeks to $2,000 per week for 26 weeks.

There are also measures aimed at supporting doctors in rural communities where there can be few specialisits, leading to a heavy workload.

"It's not sustainable to expect one or two people to be on call that frequently," Audain said, "so there's been a commitment in this contract to do some things to try and ensure that you have a sustainable call environment … so four to five people in each of those specialties to support the system."

The physician agreement covers about 1,900 physicians, 560 retirees and life members, as well as 745 clinical and academic physicians.

The new contract will end on March 31, 2027.

Doctors Nova Scotia said the agreements will be posted on its website in the coming days.


Andrew Lam

Reporter/Associate Producer

Andrew Lam (they/she) is a Chinese-Canadian and trans reporter for CBC Nova Scotia. They are interested in 2SLGBTQIA+, labour and data-driven stories. Andrew also has a professional background in data analytics and visualization.