09/24/2014 05:17 EDT | Updated 11/24/2014 05:59 EST

Quebec says it has reached agreement-in-principle with its doctors

QUEBEC - The Quebec government announced an agreement-in-principle with its general practitioners and medical specialists on Wednesday.

The doctors will see their salary hikes spread out over eight years, said Health Minister Gaetan Barrette.

Barrette had been seeking a nine-year period for the $1.2 billion in salary increases to be paid out.

He told a news conference the proposal provides for no pay hike in the current 2014-15 fiscal year as the government pushes for a balanced budget next year.

The minister said the federation representing the specialists is expected to put the deal to its members on Thursday, while the group representing the general practitioners should do likewise on Oct. 4.

The negotiations began last May before breaking off in the summer.

"We had contingency plans for 2014-15 and 2015-16 and the federations have made substantial concessions," Barrette said earlier in the day.

"We're very satisfied in budgetary terms with the proposed eight-year period."