Thursday, June 9 Toronto, ON – More than 100,000 people from across the province are standing up against the Liberal government’s cuts to necessary funding for physician services.
Every day, the number of people grows who have joined the call to demand that the government stop its cuts and, instead, protect and strengthen quality of, and access to, patient-focused care.
“The sheer number Ontarians who have made their voice heard makes it clear that Ontario’s patients are very concerned about the Liberal government’s cuts to funding for physician services,” said Dr. Virginia Walley, President of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). “As a direct result of this government’s ongoing cutbacks, families from every region of the province are worried about their ability to access the quality care they depend on.”
Since February 2015, the Ontario government has unilaterally cut funding for physician services by almost seven per cent. As the province’s population grows and ages, the result of these cutbacks is a real and serious threat to Ontarians’ ability to access quality, patient-focused care.
Recently, the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) of Ontario released data that show the province is only funding half of the growth in the health-care system, and will continue to underfund the system for the next four years. The FAO, which provides independent analysis of the Province’s finances, has also expressed that the government routinely blocks information needed to conduct these assessments of the Province’s spending.
Dr. Debra Birnbaum, a family doctor in Toronto has had more than 400 people in her office sign a petition. “My patients see the petition as a way to have their voice heard,” said Dr. Birnbaum. “They are happy to sign it, because they are frustrated with the wait times to see specialists or get an appointment for surgery or test.”
Dr. Nadia Knarr in Belleville has also gathered at least a dozen pages of signatures for the petition at her medical clinic. “The petition alerts patients to the problem of how health care is being funded, it gives them a chance to ask questions and it allows them to immediately take a concrete action for change,” said Dr. Knarr.
The petitions have been available since late 2015, and have been continuously submitted to the Ontario Legislature from all regions of the province. More than one third of Members of Provincial Parliament (MPP) have read at least one petition into the record at Queen’s Park—representing 73 per cent of opposition MPPs, including both parties’ critics for Health and Long-Term Care.
In total, the petition has been read 104 times in the Legislature by 35 different MPPs. On average, a petition is read every day that the Legislature sits. Petitions are available in doctor’s offices and clinics, as well as online at PutOntarioPatientsFirst.com.
“Ontarians put their trust in the Liberal government to protect the province’s health-care system,” said Dr. Walley. “Unfortunately, the ongoing cutbacks in funding for medical services are directly threatening the long-term quality of Ontario’s health care.”
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.