After months of negotiations, and four years without a contract, a tentative deal has been reached between Newfoundland and Labrador's physicians and the provincial government.
In a media release on Friday, the province said it reached a tentative agreement for the renewal of its memorandum of agreement with the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA).
The NLMA represents physicians in the province and has long been pushing for a new contract with government. The group has also been calling for the province to improve recruitment and retention strategies to draw in new doctors, as about 98,000 residents currently don't have a family doctor.
Negotiations went sour in October, however, when the the NLMA called off discussions.
At the time, President Dr. Susan MacDonald said Health Minister John Haggie and Finance Minister Siobhan Coady wouldn't be spending any money to improve doctor recruitment and retention. MacDonald said the NLMA's own proposals had been "flatly rejected."
MacDonald also said government was using a "divide and conquer tactic" in the middle of negotiations with the Department of Health, advising that there would be a change to provincial legislation to remove the requirement that physicians must be members of the association.
The tentative agreement covers over 1,300 salaried, alternate payment plan and fee-for-service physicians in the province.
The province said it won't be discussing details until the NLMA completes its ratification process.
In a letter to members on Friday, MacDonald said the NLMA will not be sharing details either, until after members have an opportunity to review and vote on the deal.
"We will hold online meetings to discuss the tentative agreement and answer questions prior to an online vote among practicing members," MacDonald said in her letter.
"It has been a long road and I am very happy to share this news with you as we get ready to welcome the new year."