Dr. Patrick O'Shea, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, speaks to reporters after a board meeting Saturday afternoon. Photo by Gary Hebbard
The president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association said a change in government leadership has provided a window of opportunity to settle contract negotiations.
Dr. Patrick O’Shea said Saturday afternoon, following a meeting with the association’s board of directors, that talks with Finance Minister Tom Marshall and Health Minister Jerome Kennedy on Friday were cordial.
“It was very good to open the lines of communication,” said O’Shea, who added that Saturday’s board meeting confirmed the association’s desire for contract negotiations to go to binding arbitration. “We have very strong consensus that we must have binding arbitration as a dispute-resolution mechanism, not just for this agreement but for all future agreements, and we cannot be in this position of this prolonged negotiation again.”
O’Shea said the association is willing to give up the right to strike if the government decides to move to binding arbitration.
However, the association is currently voting on the government’s recent contract offer — one that the board recommended its members reject — and O’Shea the NLMA will not enter into formal negotiations with the government until after the voting has finished. But the association president said it was clear in talks Friday that the resignation of former premier Danny Williams has provided a new mandate to get a deal done quickly.
“There’s a timely element here now. There’s a window of opportunity here now with the change in leadership,” he said.