TORONTO, June 24, 2012 /CNW/ - With the Ontario budget now passed, it's time for Premier Dalton McGuinty to put as much energy and resolve into negotiating a fair deal for patients and doctors as he did in avoiding a snap summer election. This time, talks must resume with a conciliator to ensure fairness while negotiating an agreement that protects patient care.
Since February, Ontario's doctors and the government have been meeting to discuss challenges in the health care system and how they can be addressed through a new contract for physician services. From the start, the government has refused to budge from its plan to cut $1 billion from OHIP. Talks broke down after the government began unilaterally imposing cuts to health programs and doctor fees last month. The government refused the OMA's request to continue negotiations with the assistance of an independent third-party conciliator, which is a recommended method of resolution identified in The Canada Health Act.
The McGuinty government's scheme to cut fees and programs will increase wait times and make it harder to recruit and retain doctors. It will also mean that patients in Ontario who still don't have a family doctor will either wait longer to find one or won't be able to find one at all. A recent Nanos Research survey of Ontario's doctors shows 41% would consider moving out of Ontario and 33% would consider retiring early if the cuts are carried out.
"The goal of Ontario's doctors has always been to negotiate an agreement that's not only fair but, more importantly, is in the best interests of patients. It was clear from the start that the government had chosen conflict over conciliation. While the Ontario Legislature might be on summer break, the need for patient care never stops. The Premier is duty bound to come back to the table, with the help of a conciliator, to reach a fair deal for patients and doctors."
Dr. Doug Weir
President, Ontario Medical Association
- Nearly one million Ontarians do not have access to a family physician.
- While Ontario is cutting physician fees, other Canadian provinces - including Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan - have negotiated fee increases.
- Ontario's doctors have put forward several proposals throughout the negotiation process, including a two-year freeze on physician fees and to find an additional $250 million in savings.
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