Ontario government strikes deal with doctors over fees

Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:56pm EST
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* Ontario says doctors' wages effectively frozen

* Province still seeking deals with teachers, other unions

* Deal with doctors runs until March, 2014

By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Ontario's government said on Tuesday it struck a deal with doctors in Canada's most populous province to curb fees, part of a broader push by the ruling Liberals to eliminate a large budget deficit.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who announced last month that he would resign once the Liberals elect a new leader in January, said he hoped a tentative agreement with the Ontario Medical Association would motivate other labor groups to reach deals with the province.

The agreement, which runs to March 2014, followed months of heated negotiations and comes as the minority Liberal government is mired in contentious talks with other provincial employees, including teachers.

"We're hopeful that (the deal) will send a signal to all Ontarians that our government works as hard as we can to secure these agreements with our partners - whether that's those who work in schools, those who work in the healthcare system, or those who work in government services," McGuinty told reporters during a visit to Google Canada's new offices in Toronto.

The Liberal government angered public sector unions by passing a law that freezes wages and limits their right to strike, a move it hopes will help reduce the province's C$14.4 billion ($14.4 billion) budget deficit.   Continued...