Prov­ince not talk­ing about doc­tors’ bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion snag

The Labradorian - - EDITORIAL - BY BARB SWEET

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.

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