Today, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) officially launched its challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms against the Government of Ontario.
A Notice of Application was issued in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice this morning, and will be served on the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Attorney General of Ontario and Attorney General of Canada.
The challenge is based on an immediate need to have a Physician Services Agreement with the provincial government that protects the quality patient-focused care that Ontarians need and expect. This step follows unsuccessful efforts to secure a binding dispute resolution mechanism and two rounds of unilateral cuts to physicians’ fees.
“Ontario’s doctors put their patients first every day and that’s why we’ve been working hard to resolve this dispute with government. Today’s action is a way to find an immediate solution that protects patient-focused care,” said Dr. Mike Toth, OMA President. “Ultimately, the OMA anticipates that the challenge will result in a permanent and stable framework in which Ontario’s doctors and the government can work collaboratively to make decisions about the future of Ontario’s health-care system.”
The OMA is asking the court to declare that physicians have a constitutional right to a binding dispute mechanism for disputes over compensation matters. The Charter challenge is based mainly on the protection for freedom of association in Section 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
As a result of three Supreme Court decisions released in late January 2015, representative associations now have much stronger constitutional rights. It was in this new legal landscape that the OMA sought to amend its Representation Rights Agreement to include a binding dispute mechanism.
The OMA announced last Thursday it would be launching the challenge following the government’s rejection of its request for a mediation-arbitration process as part of the negotiations process.