Province facing off with N.S. doctors in contract-dispute

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CTV Atlantic

Published Monday, January 15, 2018 8:45PM AST

Last Updated Monday, January 15, 2018 8:51PM AST

The province of Nova Scotia was in court facing off with doctors in a contract dispute, it’s the first of two court-dates for the province.

The contract-dispute dates back to the fall, when doctors filed a $4.4 million dollar lawsuit, claiming the province was in breach of contract, alleging the government owes them millions in back pay.

Nova Scotia Doctors CEO, Nancy McCready-Williams, says she hopes the dispute can be dealt with as soon as possible.

“These are contract interpretation matters and hopefully they can be dealt with as expeditiously as possible,” she says.

The group calls the case a distraction from efforts to improve health care with an estimated 90,000 Nova Scotians left without a family doctor. McCready-Williams says it’s a harsh reality.

“It might send a chilling effect about whether…you know,physicians should come to Nova Scotia, and what kind of contract are they going to have?”

On Thursday, labour groups will be in court with a judge reviewing the controversial Bill 148 — the law that sets a wage pattern for the public sector.

The NSGEU has launched a charter challenge of that same bill with the teachers union challenged its contract legislation, Bill 75 that imposed a contract on them last year.

Officials say the cases will likely take several years to settle.

Labour Relations Minister, Mark Furey, told CTV News in a statement: “we stand by the legislation and believe it will hold up to a court challenge.” “We will advance our position in court.”

The minister is in charge of a new portfolio, created after the spring election.

“I believe there is an attitude change but the proof is in the pudding, let’s see where they come with bills or with bargaining,” says President of the NSGEU, Jason MacLean

Bargaining is still underway for about 70 per cent of public sector workers, who are without a contract, but talks have not been smooth.

Healthcare groups are set to go to conciliation later this week.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.

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