TORONTO, Oct. 22, 2015 – Today, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) announced that it is taking concrete steps on two fronts. These actions follow the Ontario government’s rejection of the OMA’s request for a mediation-arbitration process, and are driven by the need to find both immediate and long-term solutions to protect patient-focused care.
First, the OMA will launch a challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms against the Government of Ontario. 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.
“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,” said Dr. Mike Toth, OMA President.
Second, the OMA welcomes the opportunity to participate in a task force designed to study the long-term sustainability of Ontario’s health-care system. The OMA believes that this task force should identify the systemic changes necessary to ensure the system’s ability to deliver the quality care Ontarians deserve. Ontario’s doctors look forward to providing their input on the terms of reference in the coming days.
Background on negotiations:
In January, following a year of negotiations with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the OMA was forced to reject a deal that would have risked hurting patient-focused care. The government responded by imposing a number of targeted and across-the-board cuts to funding for Ontario’s doctors in February and then again on Oct. 1.
In an effort to achieve a fair and reasonable agreement, the OMA asked the government to amend the Representation Rights Agreement to establish a binding dispute resolution process. We asked for mediation-arbitration to ensure we could work together with the government for a fair outcome that puts patients first.
Earlier this month, the OMA was disappointed to learn the government was unwilling to accept that request. The OMA remains willing to meet to discuss a binding dispute resolution mechanism.
In the Charter challenge, the OMA is asking the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to strike down the Government of Ontario’s unilateral action and find that a binding dispute resolution process must be established to resolve future bargaining disputes between the OMA and the Government.
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