New B.C. doctors contract could shape teacher negotiations

WATCH: Global BC has learned the details of the tentative agreement between the province and B.C. doctors, and it could have an impact on another set of contract negotiations the provincial government is currently embroiled in. Keith Baldrey explains.

The new tentative agreement reached between the B.C. government and the Doctors of B.C. may have a direct impact on negotiations between the provincial teachers’ union and the government.

B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF) president-elect Teri Mooring was delighted to learn of the details of the tentative doctors’ contract, the contents of which have been obtained by Global News.

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Because the new deal with the doctors goes well beyond the provincial government’s “sustainable services negotiating mandate” (which sets wage increases for public sector employees at a maximum of two per cent annually for three years), there is reason to believe something similar might be struck with the BCTF, Mooring told Global News.

“That’s really encouraging to hear,” Mooring said. “Doctors are hard to recruit across the province. So are teachers, so yes that gives us a great deal of optimism.”

According to the 10-page document Doctors of B.C. sent out to its members, the new deal will see a 8.8 per cent increase over the current compensation base over three years. The provincial negotiating mandate is six per cent over three years.

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As well, any physician who earned more than $75,000 in any of the last three years will be given a one-time payment of $7,500 that, according to the document, “is in recognition of recent increases in business costs.”

Starting in 2020, the government will fund a new premium on certain visits to doctors’ offices: visits and consultations, examinations and counselling services. Depending on how many premiums are collected, some doctors could receive thousands of dollars in extra payments.

A government official, speaking on a not-for-attribution basis, said the extra money to cover expenses is reflective of the fact that leases and rents for doctors’ offices are skyrocketing in price, particularly in Metro Vancouver.

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The official also insisted the 8.8 per cent increase in compensation consists of six per cent for straight fee or contract increases (as per the negotiating mandate), with the remaining 2.8 per cent for business expenses and benefits.

It’s all music to Mooring’s ears, and she linked doctors’ rising business expenses to how teachers help fund their classrooms.

“Teachers spend a lot of out-of-pocket money in their classrooms because of a lack of resources,” she said. “Again, all good news for us, moving forward with that knowledge. So that’s very good.”

The BCTF and government negotiators have so far met 20 times to deal with mostly preliminary matters.

Negotiations begin in earnest on April 1, and Mooring said she is more optimistic than before that a new deal can be reached before the current contract expires on June 30 of this year.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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