79% of Ontario's Doctors Vote in support of New Agreement with Province

Patients will be the beneficiaries of improved care and refocus on
    collaborative care modelsTORONTO, Oct. 18 /CNW/ - The elected governing Council of the Ontario
Medical Association (OMA) voted today to ratify a new contract with the
provincial government. The vote took place this morning after a referendum
with Ontario's doctors across Ontario who voted 79% in support of the
agreement.
    "I'm pleased that doctors have strongly endorsed this new contract." said
Dr. Ken Arnold, President of the OMA. "Over the last 4 years doctors have been
working harder to reduce wait times and improve access to care. This new
agreement will build on that progress and help to further improve care for
patients."
    The new contract runs from April 1, 2008 until March 31, 2012. After the
OMA's Board of Directors unanimously endorsed the agreement in early
September, information sessions were held across the province to prepare
physicians for a week long online and telephone referendum. The vote resulted
in 79% of those who voted voicing support for the agreement, leading to its
ratification by the OMA's governing council this morning in Toronto.Key components of the agreement include:

    -  Fee increases of 12.25% over four years
    -  $340 million in new program funding and incentives
    -  A refocus on collaborative care by providing funds to hire 500
       licensed nurses to work with physicians in their offices.
    -  Initiatives to work to find a family doctor for 500,000 additional
       patients
    -  Deferral of payments on the principal of eligible debts for medical
       studentsDr. Arnold spoke to recent improvements to access to health care in
Ontario. In particular he referenced the 630,000 patients who have found a
family doctor since 2003, who didn't previously have one. He also acknowledged
that there remains work to be done. In particular, he spoke to his commitment
to work with government to expedite efforts to bring e-health to all physician
offices to improve efficiencies and best practices.
    "Ontario's physicians have recognized that this new contract presents an
excellent opportunity to strengthen health care in Ontario," said Dr. Arnold.
"Our goal is to provide quality care for all of our patients."Backgrounder
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    Key details of the agreement include:

    -  The agreement runs from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2012. It is valued
       at approximately $1 billion and includes an increase of 12.25% on fees
       and alternate payment plans and programs over four years.

    -  The increases in each year are as follows:
                                                     2008/09     3%
                                                     2009/10     2%
                                                     2010/11     3%
                                                     2011/12  4.25%

    -  The agreement also includes $240 million in new program funding and
       $100 million in incentive funds.

    -  Up to 500 licensed nurses will be hired to work with physicians in
       three key priority areas: Aging at Home strategy, End of Life care,
       and Mental Health and Addictions.

    -  A new Diabetes Registry will be established to help patients and
       physicians better manage their conditions.

    -  A target to find a family doctor for 500,000 patients, especially
       those of higher risk, who are currently without one.

    -  The Northern Physician Retention Initiative will continue for the
       duration of the Agreement.

    -  A new program will allow medical students to defer payments on the
       principal of the eligible debts during training and the Ministry will
       pay the full interest on the eligible debt through the end of the
       residency training program.
For further information: OMA Media Relations at (416) 340-2862 or
toll-free at 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2862