03/18/2014 01:59 EDT | Updated 05/18/2014 05:59 EDT

Tentative contract agreement reached for New Brunswick fee-for-service doctors

FREDERICTON - The New Brunswick government has reached a tentative agreement on fee-for-service doctors with the provincial medical society.

Health Minister Hugh Flemming said Tuesday that the tentative agreement contains measures that would save money over the next few years.

He said details will not be released before a ratification vote.

Dr. Lynn Hansen, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society, said the agreement would improve both the quality of patient care and the sustainability of the health system.

Flemming said the new contract for the province's 1,200 fee-for-service doctors will take effect April 1, pending its ratification.

Last June, Flemming threatened to impose a $425-million cap on annual medicare billings. But the doctors challenged the move and a judge ruled in their favour, saying they had a legally binding contract.

Flemming's plan would have cut medicare payments by $20 million in an effort to reduce health-care costs.