11/01/2012 07:29 EDT | Updated 01/01/2013 05:12 EST

Resident B.C. doctors ratify new four-year deal; get 2.8 per cent wage hike

VICTORIA - Doctors who work as resident physicians in B.C. hospitals have ratified a new four-year contract with the provincial government.

The agreement replaces one that expired in 2010 and provides a pay hike of 2.8 per cent that takes effect in stages in January and April of next year.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong says the contract was settled under what the government calls its Co-operative Gains Mandate, in which no new money is provided for wage hikes and the parties must find savings within existing budgets in order to produce salary increases.

Resident doctors are post-graduate physician trainees who've finished their classroom work and now work in health-care settings to complete their practical education.

In June, the B.C. government reached a four-year deal with the B.C. Medical Association, which represents 10,000 doctors, including specialists and family physicians throughout the province.

The government said the agreement would provide funding to increase patient access to doctors in rural areas, and also address the issue of recruitment and retention of specialists.