News Release Archive

Health Minister Bernie Boudreau has announced a comprehensive
$8-million plan to immediately stabilize physician services
across Nova Scotia.

"We are following through on a commitment I made to doctors
across Nova Scotia," Mr. Boudreau said at the legislature today.
"The problems they identified are being addressed immediately,
not prolonged by a long and involved negotiating process."

The plan to stabilize physician services offers emergency on-call
payments, an enhanced Rural Physicians Locum Service, a Physician
Consultants Fund, and maintenance of the current level of
malpractice insurance rebates.

The emergency on-call payments, a first for Nova Scotia, will
help to sustain emergency services and assist in the recruitment
and retention of rural physicians.

"The new payments are in recognition of the unique commitment
rural doctors have to their community and places a value on a
physician's on-call time which has never been done here before,"
said Mr. Boudreau.

The payments to qualifying doctors will be either $65 an hour or
$50 an hour -- depending on the size of the hospital -- to
provide emergency room coverage between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.
weekdays, and during weekends and holidays. It is expected the
new payments will cost $4.9 million annually.

For physicians in remote rural communities who have occasional
calls during the night, there will be a flat annual fee of
$20,000 for such emergency work on top of their existing
fee-for-service payments. Only Alberta and Ontario have similar
payments in place.

The Department of Health will fund and operate the enhanced Rural
Physician Locum Service in response to concerns from rural
physicians about the lack of available relief coverage. The
department will hire a pool of doctors to fill in when a rural
physician is ill, on vacation, on maternity leave or away for
continuing medical education. The fund will cost approximately $1
million annually.

Doctors who help out on committees and special projects to
improve the health care system will be paid through a new
Physician Consultants Fund. The cost will be $1 million annually.

To help all doctors in the province, and especially specialists,
the Department of Health will provide additional resources to
maintain the current level of malpractice premium rebates,
despite expected rate increases, at a cost of $1 million this
year. Next year the cost is expected to be $1.7 million. For the
first time, the government will also pay the malpractice
insurance premiums for medical residents. These steps improve on
what is already the most generous malpractice premium rebate
program in Canada.

"The new physician stabilization plan will help to ensure Nova
Scotians, regardless of where they live, will have access to
quality health care services any time of day or night," said Mr.

The Medical Society of Nova Scotia was informed at last night's
physician contract negotiations that the Department of Health is
proceeding with this plan, and has been notified of today's


Contact: Lori MacLean
         Department of Health

NOTE TO EDITORS: A fact sheet on the initiative is available by
calling 1-800-670-4357 or 902-424-4492.

trp                    Apr. 16, 1997 - 3:10 p.m.