Arbitration a no go: Williams

Dave Bartlett
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NLMA negotiations come up in House

Negotiations between the province and its doctors, which appear to be in limbo, came up in the House of Assembly Tuesday.
Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones characterized recent comments by Premier Danny Williams and Health Minister Jerome Kennedy as "shameful" and an attack on the doctors.
"In light of your government's damaged relationship with the province's doctors, are you willing to send these negotiations to binding arbitration?" asked Jones as question period began.
The premier's response was swift. "Under no circumstances are we prepared to send this matter to binding arbitration," he said.
Williams said next week's provincial budget will contain a second consecutive deficit, and the government wants to be careful with taxpayers' money.
Government negotiators contacted the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA) Tuesday morning offering to resume negotiations, but the premier said that was "flatly rejected by the NLMA."
The association wants the government to respond to a proposal it made March 3, in writing, before talks resume.
Jones asked Finance Minister Tom Marshall why the response hasn't been sent yet.
Marshall replied by saying a response is being drafted and will be sent soon.
He also said the contents of the proposal would have been discussed at a meeting last week - which was cancelled after the opposition held a news conference to say clinical chiefs across the province planned a mass resignation.
And Marshall said the NLMA only asked for a written response Tuesday morning.
"We're not delaying," he told Jones. "Discussions will take place. They will continue and we will negotiate a deal that's fair to all concerned."
The government estimates the cost of the NLMA's proposal at between $126 million and $140 million a year.
The association estimated the cost to government at $80 million earlier Tuesday.
Jones then asked Kennedy what his plan was to fill gaps in the number of specialists needed in the province in light of the strained relationship with the NLMA.
Kennedy countered by saying the province now has more doctors than ever before, with a net increase of 53 doctors in the last 18 months.
He also said the province has introduced other measures including a retention bonus for doctors who take jobs in rural and isolated areas.
Kennedy admitted there are still some gaps in the health care system, but suggested the province is doing all it can.
"Overall, Mr. Speaker, we are doing quite well," he said.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association

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Recent comments

  • healthcare_worker
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    i think people in politics need to spend a couple of weeks doing the jobs we do in the healthcare system. they don't have a clue about what we face each and every day. people like myself who do a good job and are highly educated are not appreciated. it's time the government step up and listen to their health care workers...each and every one of them!

  • Stop the Racket
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    Dictator Danny at his best. After all what else would we expect from the little tyrant. Now can you see why he went to Florida for his Heart surgery. All that surprised me about that was the fact they actually found a heart to operate on.

  • J.D.
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    How much do doctors in this province make compared to other provinces anyways?

    Taking into account the cost of living in NL as compared to living in other parts of the country it would be interesting to see how these doctors bottom lines measure up?

  • Nasty
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Since Danny feels that binding arbitration is such a sin, I guess we will never again hear of government ordering arbitration onto any employer in this province or union again. Binding Arbitration has been killed with Danny's command has it.

    Remember that when you vote next, Danny commanded it so.

    Thou Shall Not Be Permitted To Fair Bargaining In Newfoundland.

  • From Away
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Hard to believe than Danny Williams has an 80% support rating in NF, and each and every day he takes away peoples rights and looks like he headed in a Communist direction. Maybe NF will join China and or Russia. Continuing to support such a Dictator will set NF back decades for our children. wAKE UP NEWFOUNDLAND !!

  • daniel
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Thousands of jobs in medical billing needs to be filled find a local school to get a degree from http://ow.ly/1ggKF

  • Paul
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    finally, after 50 or so years, we have a leader like the premier who is looking out for taxpayers money...and making long ternm decisions for the greater good. many dr's want an open ceiling for salaries but no accountability...well now the rubber has finally met the road. what amazes me are the cynics who criticize but could never do the premier's or health minister's job.

  • Ed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    What has binding arbitration got to do with salary negotiations?
    Danny is right to be looking after the taxpayers money, and to reduce the deficit and the provincial debt. I do believe however that the doctors/nurses/firemen/police should be treated fairly and paid reasonably well for the work that they do. We should also then hold them responsible for the results of their work. They should be responsible for the quality of medical care in hospitals AND the quality of the test results from those hospital labs. It seems that they might want the high pay without having to take responsibility for the work they do.
    The other thing is that compensation in the public sector (compensation includes pay, benefits etc vs work effort) also needs to be kept somewhat in line with private sector compensation because that is where the taxes come from to fund the pay.
    Having said all that I would like to make the observation that Danny Williams, who I respect and support, really needs to be less confrontational and emotional when dealing with others who have a different opinion or objective.

  • Mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Here we go again. Williams, Kennedy & Marshall the 3 stooges will fix it.

  • Eric
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Ed from NL writes: What has binding arbitration got to do with salary negotiations?


    I guess you don't follow all the news do you Ed? If you did you would know. Sucks to be you.


    Anyone know of any more secret salary increases our 'honorable' MHAs may have voted on to give to themselves recently? Last one was what? 10%? That one was just an appetizer.

  • Orville
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    Doctors have been trying to get the Williams gov to negotiate for 15 months. Then Danny blew his top and broke his promise (yes, another broken promise) to keep the negotiations private between the two parties until a settlement was reached. So the doctors said, 'Fine. Have it your way. If you don't want to negotiate, then there will be no negotiations. So let's send this off to binding arbitration and finally get this behind us.' But Dan the Man said, 'Nah, I don't want that either.' So what DOES Dan the Man want, we ask ? He doesn't want to negotiate. He doesn't want to arbitrate. Well, well, well, there's only one thing left. Dan the Man wants to DICTATE the terms to the doctors. What a surprise (yawwwwn....)

  • healthcare_worker
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    i think people in politics need to spend a couple of weeks doing the jobs we do in the healthcare system. they don't have a clue about what we face each and every day. people like myself who do a good job and are highly educated are not appreciated. it's time the government step up and listen to their health care workers...each and every one of them!

  • Stop the Racket
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    Dictator Danny at his best. After all what else would we expect from the little tyrant. Now can you see why he went to Florida for his Heart surgery. All that surprised me about that was the fact they actually found a heart to operate on.

  • J.D.
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    How much do doctors in this province make compared to other provinces anyways?

    Taking into account the cost of living in NL as compared to living in other parts of the country it would be interesting to see how these doctors bottom lines measure up?

  • Nasty
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    Since Danny feels that binding arbitration is such a sin, I guess we will never again hear of government ordering arbitration onto any employer in this province or union again. Binding Arbitration has been killed with Danny's command has it.

    Remember that when you vote next, Danny commanded it so.

    Thou Shall Not Be Permitted To Fair Bargaining In Newfoundland.

  • From Away
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    Hard to believe than Danny Williams has an 80% support rating in NF, and each and every day he takes away peoples rights and looks like he headed in a Communist direction. Maybe NF will join China and or Russia. Continuing to support such a Dictator will set NF back decades for our children. wAKE UP NEWFOUNDLAND !!

  • daniel
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Thousands of jobs in medical billing needs to be filled find a local school to get a degree from http://ow.ly/1ggKF

  • Paul
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    finally, after 50 or so years, we have a leader like the premier who is looking out for taxpayers money...and making long ternm decisions for the greater good. many dr's want an open ceiling for salaries but no accountability...well now the rubber has finally met the road. what amazes me are the cynics who criticize but could never do the premier's or health minister's job.

  • Ed
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    What has binding arbitration got to do with salary negotiations?
    Danny is right to be looking after the taxpayers money, and to reduce the deficit and the provincial debt. I do believe however that the doctors/nurses/firemen/police should be treated fairly and paid reasonably well for the work that they do. We should also then hold them responsible for the results of their work. They should be responsible for the quality of medical care in hospitals AND the quality of the test results from those hospital labs. It seems that they might want the high pay without having to take responsibility for the work they do.
    The other thing is that compensation in the public sector (compensation includes pay, benefits etc vs work effort) also needs to be kept somewhat in line with private sector compensation because that is where the taxes come from to fund the pay.
    Having said all that I would like to make the observation that Danny Williams, who I respect and support, really needs to be less confrontational and emotional when dealing with others who have a different opinion or objective.

  • Mark
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Here we go again. Williams, Kennedy & Marshall the 3 stooges will fix it.

  • Eric
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Ed from NL writes: What has binding arbitration got to do with salary negotiations?


    I guess you don't follow all the news do you Ed? If you did you would know. Sucks to be you.


    Anyone know of any more secret salary increases our 'honorable' MHAs may have voted on to give to themselves recently? Last one was what? 10%? That one was just an appetizer.

  • Orville
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    Doctors have been trying to get the Williams gov to negotiate for 15 months. Then Danny blew his top and broke his promise (yes, another broken promise) to keep the negotiations private between the two parties until a settlement was reached. So the doctors said, 'Fine. Have it your way. If you don't want to negotiate, then there will be no negotiations. So let's send this off to binding arbitration and finally get this behind us.' But Dan the Man said, 'Nah, I don't want that either.' So what DOES Dan the Man want, we ask ? He doesn't want to negotiate. He doesn't want to arbitrate. Well, well, well, there's only one thing left. Dan the Man wants to DICTATE the terms to the doctors. What a surprise (yawwwwn....)