Ontario's patients join doctors in calling on government to make health care a priority

TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2015 /CNW/ - In less than eight weeks, more than 16,000 Ontarians have called on the government to resume negotiations with Ontario's doctors to reach an agreement that protects quality, patient-focused care.

People from all across Ontario have signed a petition urging the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to return to the table with Ontario's doctors and work together through mediation-arbitration to reach a fair deal that puts patients first.

"Ontario's doctors put their patients first every day and that's why we've been working hard to resolve this dispute with government," said Dr. Mike Toth, President, Ontario Medical Association. "We are encouraged to see so many patients becoming involved in this issue as awareness grows every day."

Every petition is sent to the government, as well as individual members of the provincial legislature, who are formally presenting them into the legislature. Since its release, the petition has been read into the record, on average, twice each day that the legislature has been sitting. Overall, 23 MPPs have read the petition into the record, including both opposition party critics for Health and Long-Term Care.

This action comes as the Ontario government has unilaterally cut funding for physician services by almost seven per cent since February. This funding covers all the necessary care provided to patients by doctors. 

"We're pleased to have the support of so many Ontarians.  They understand that the decisions Ontario makes today will impact patients' access – their access – to quality care in the years to come and that these cuts will threaten access to the quality, patient-focused care that they expect for themselves and their families," said Dr. Toth. "The government's continued cuts to the care doctors provide are simply not sustainable."

Ontario's population is growing and aging – for the first time the number of seniors in the province is greater than that of children. The need for care is increasing, while funding is decreasing. A recent poll commissioned for the Ontario Medical Association found that 85 per cent of Ontarians trust doctors to make decisions about the future of the health-care system. Only 15 per cent said they trust the provincial government to do the same.

In total, the petition has been read 39 times in the house. Petitions are available in doctor's offices and clinics, as well as online at putontariopatientsfirst.com

"We expect when the legislature resumes sitting in February we will have collected thousands more signatures and will have dozens more copies of the petition waiting to be read," said Dr. Toth. "The chorus of voices calling on the government to reverse its harmful cuts is only going to get louder."

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) represents more than 34,000 physicians and medical students across the province. Ontario's doctors work closely with patients to encourage healthy living practices and illness prevention. In addition to delivering front-line services to patients, Ontario's doctors play a significant role in helping shape health care policy, as well as implementing initiatives that strengthen and enhance Ontario's health care system.

SOURCE Ontario Medical Association

For further information: please contact: Nadia Daniell-Colarossi, Manager Media Relations, Office: 416-340-2970 or 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2970, Mobile: 416-804-4600, Email: nadia.daniell-colarossi@oma.org; Danielle Milley, Senior Advisor Media Relations, Office: 416-599-2580 or 1-800-268-7215 ext. 3008, Mobile: 647-300-0081, Email: danielle.milley@oma.org

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