The Medical Services Arbitration Act, which came into force on March 7 2002, cancels the Interim Arbitration Award issued by former Chief Justice Allan McEachern on February 8, 2002 in a dispute between the Government of BC and the BC Medical Association over doctors’ compensation.
Under the parties’ framework agreement, the government and the BCMA were obligated to proceed to binding interest arbitration if they could not resolve their disputes on physician compensation through negotiation or mediation. Mr. McEachern chaired the interest arbitration board. Under the agreement, in determining compensation issues, the board was obliged to consider a number of factors, including the financial circumstances of government. The interim award granted significant retroactive and prospective compensation increases for BC physicians.
In Bill 9, the Government voids the Interim Award, divests the panel of jurisdiction and removes clauses from three agreements between the Province and the BCMA which allow for continued binding interest arbitration to settle outstanding compensation issues. All other provisions of these agreements, including those allowing for arbitration to interpret rights already settled, remain in effect.
Finally, Section 4 precludes any action for damages or compensation against the Government, the Medical Services Commission or any person because of the Act.