Nova Scotia doctors approve new, four-year labour deal that includes raises

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Nova Scotia doctors have approved two four-year labour agreements with the province that will see family doctors, anaesthetists and emergency physicians earn the highest pay in Atlantic Canada.

The president of Doctors Nova Scotia, Dr. Gary Ernest, issued a statement Wednesday saying the agreements offer “more competitive” compensation and will help the province retain and recruit doctors.

Under the contracts, nearly 3,000 Nova Scotia doctors will receive a two per cent wage increase in each year of a four-year deal.

READ MORE: Doctors Nova Scotia fights province in Court of Appeal over contract negotiations

“These contracts begin to recognize the value of Nova Scotia’s doctors and will help to begin stabilizing some of the most vital services in our health-care system so that patients have better access to the care they need, when they need it,” said Ernest.

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The overall deal includes two agreements: one that replaces the 2015 master agreement, and a second which replaces the 2015 clinical and academic funding agreement.

The master agreement includes over 1,800 physicians paid by fee for service and alternate payment plans while the clinical agreement includes about 700 doctors who teach or do research.

The province says it has pledged a total of $135 million over four years to assist primary care, emergency care, psychiatry, anaesthesia, and obstetrics and gynecology.

The funding includes $9 million to create new specialist positions in order to address areas of need; $6.5 million to increase hourly rates for emergency department doctors; $4.8 million more for hourly rates for psychiatrists in rural regions to help improve access to mental health services; and $2.5 million to double the incentive to attract and retain specialists in rural areas.

Premier Stephen McNeil said he believes the overall deal helps address needs in the health-care system while meeting the financial needs of doctors.

READ MORE: Doctors Nova Scotia takes province to court over contract issues

“We know there is fierce competition across North America to attract doctors,” McNeil said in a statement. “Competitive compensation is critical to recruiting and retaining doctors who will provide quality health-care services for Nova Scotians, where and when they need them.”

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According to Doctors Nova Scotia, the new deal will see family doctors’ annual salaries increase by about $60,000 by the end of the contract, taking a typical physician from $250,000 to $310,000.

The master agreement will also allow retiring and new physicians to work together to ensure there is a seamless transition for patients, Doctors Nova Scotia said.

“While the contracts don’t solve every problem in the system and they don’t make every speciality nationally competitive, we believe the contracts are a step in the right direction,” Ernest said.

The deals, expected to be signed on Friday, would be retroactive to April 1, 2019, and will expire on March 31, 2023.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2019.

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