Province not talking about doctors’ binding arbitration snag
The province won’t comment on a snag in finalizing an agreement reached years go with doctors.
“As the parties are engaged in discussions, it would not be appropriate to discuss negotiations at this time,” Finance Minister Cathy Bennett, who is also president of the Treasury Board, said in an emailed statement regarding the continuing talks between the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA) and the government.
The failure so far to sign the 2013-17 memorandum of agreement (MOA) stalls doctors’ raises worth about $20 million from the last round of negotiations.
But the NLMA has said the raises will eventually be paid retroactively, as they are guaranteed.
As The Telegram reported, the two parties haven’t signed off on how to administer binding arbitration — agreed to in 2010 as a way to resolve collective bargaining when negotiations fail.
“Doctors have fought hard for the right to binding arbitration and nothing short of absolute certainty will suffice. Doctors and their patients never again wish to see the anxiety and difficulties associated with the withdrawal of services in 2002 or the physician resignations of 2010,” NLMA president Dr. Chris Cox noted in a recent letter to doctors.
The holdup is over how to deal with doctors who go outside the MOA and withdraw their services — the province’s College of Physicians and Surgeons has said it’s outside its mandate to discipline them, according to the
The government wants such a mechanism and the NLMA has agreed with the request, but won’t sign the current MOA, set to expire in a year’s time, until the agreement on implementing binding arbitration is clewed up.