Health care system in crisis, says OMA President

TORONTO, April 30, 2015 /CNW/ - This afternoon Dr. Ved Tandan President of the Ontario Medical Association delivered a hard hitting speech to the Economic Club strongly cautioning that despite the fiscal challenges facing the province, the government cannot turn a blind eye to the health care needs of Ontarians.

"Our publicly-funded health care system is in the midst of a crisis," the Ontario Medical Association president told the crowd. "Not on the verge of a crisis – in a crisis." 

With 900,000 Ontarians without a family doctor, an influx of 140,000 new people into the system every year and an aging population who require more complex care, there is a need for investment in health care, but the government is responding by cutting medical services and flat-lining hospital budgets.

"The government has an Action Plan for Health Care," said Dr. Tandan. "The problem is that plan is driven by short-sighted responses to fiscal concerns, instead of sustainable responses to real health care issues."

Not only are doctors being given a reason to leave the province but they also have a place to go, said Dr. Tandan, with the United States projected to be short as many as 90,000 physicians over the next decade. Instead of Ontario retaining and attracting new doctors, it is chasing them away at a time when our population is growing and aging and therefore needs more care.

Dr. Jenny Clement and her husband Greig Reekie have a family medicine clinic they run together in a neighbourhood in west Toronto that is experiencing exponential growth. She is part of a Family Health Organization that receives a constant stream of phone calls and people walking in to the office in search of a family doctor.

"We have to be able to expand to meet the needs of our community and because of the government's draconian cuts to health care – and primary care in particular – we won't be able to add new doctors to our FHO," said Dr. Clement. "That means patients who should have been able to be cared for by a family doctor will have to rely on walk-in clinics and emergency room visits, which end up costing more money and don't provide comprehensive primary care."  

Those doctors Dr. Clement would like to add to her team would also contribute to the local economy. Dr. Tandan reminded everyone of the importance of a vibrant and sustainable health care system to a healthy economy. 

"A highly functioning and vibrant health care system where better care is being provided and patients are healthier helps attract jobs and investment," he said. "It helps build a stronger and more prosperous Ontario."

Dr. Tandan concluded by reaching out to government.

"I invite government to join us, patients and providers in building the health care system of the future."  

SOURCE Ontario Medical Association

For further information: Danielle Milley, Senior Advisor Media Relations, 416-599-2580 or 1-800-268-7215 ext. 3008 or danielle.milley@oma.org; OMA Media Relations, 416-340-2862 or toll-free at 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2862, media@oma.org

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