SYDNEY – The group that represents Nova Scotia's doctors has a new tentative agreement with the provincial government.

After nearly a year of negotiations, Doctors Nova Scotia has reached a tentative contract with the province's Department Of Health and Wellness.

The details surrounding the agreement have not yet been released, but CTV News has learned physicians will receive an eight per cent pay increase over four years.

A letter sent to physicians by the group representing them says family physicians, anesthetists and emergency physicians will be the highest paid among their peers in Atlantic Canada by the end of the contract.   

If ratified, the agreement will also provide:

  • enhanced rural retention incentives;
  • enhanced parental leave benefits and facility on-call payments; and,
  • commitments for enhanced physician engagement in health-system decision-making.

On Cape Breton Island, physicians have been frustrated by overcrowding at the island's largest hospital. On Monday one ER doctor said there are 35 empty beds at community hospitals and conditions are almost unworkable at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

Doctors Nova Scotia says more than 3,100 physicians across the province will be affected.

The voting process on the contract will begin Nov. 4 and end on Nov. 25. The results are expected to be made public Nov. 27.

If ratified, they will replace the doctors' 2015 master agreement and their master clinical/academic funding plan, which expired on March 31.

Dr. Gary Ernest, president of Doctors Nova Scotia, says the new contracts would stabilize some of the province's most critical services.

"We believe we have now reached the best deals possible for Nova Scotia's doctors," Ernest said in a statement.

With files from The Canadian Press.