TORONTO - Ontario doctors have endorsed a new deal with the province that will see some services scaled back and others modernized in order to find savings.
The Ontario Medical Association says the agreement was accepted by 81 per cent of the nearly 21,000 doctors who voted by phone or online.
The OMA says the deal, worth $11.1-billion a year, will trim spending by $400 million through a half a per cent payment cut for all doctors while "modernizing" how services are delivered.
But Health Minister Deb Matthews has said total payments to physicians will rise by $100 million as new doctors are brought on, an increase that will be offset by cost savings.
The changes to services include shortening the length of time of annual physicals and the number of tests done on healthy adult patients.
The OMA says the agreement, effective from last Oct. 1 until March 31, 2014, will pump new money into house calls to seniors and high-need patients.
It also says the deal announced Sunday will let patients speak to doctors more easily through "e-consultations."
A tentative agreement was reached last month after the two sides returned to the bargaining table following a dispute this year over regulatory changes to cut Ontario Health Insurance Plan fees and premiums.
The deal shows doctors can work with the Liberal government as it moves to tame the deficit, said OMA President Dr. Doug Weir.
"Ontario's doctors demonstrated tremendous leadership by being active partners in helping the province with its fiscal challenges," he said in a release.
"If we are going to build on our successes in recent years to improve health care in Ontario, doctors and government need to continue to work in partnership."
Matthews called the ratification an "important milestone" for the province's health care system.
"Ontario's doctors have demonstrated real leadership today. They worked with us to find creative solutions under challenging fiscal circumstances," she said in a statement.
"This agreement marks a renewed era of partnership with doctors as we work together to transform and sustain our precious health care system."
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Dalton McGuinty's Scandals
When you lead Canada's biggest province for nine years you're bound to have some missteps. Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty has had his share of scandals and mistakes. <p>We highlight a few that caused him more headaches than usual. <p>Photo: Ontario Liberal Party
Back in 2004, a relatively new Liberal government under Premier Dalton McGuinty was forced to go back on a campaign promise not to raise taxes and instituted a health premium of between $300-$900. Photo: Alamy
In 2006, the Liberals tried to announce a new $46-billion energy plan that would see renovations of many of Ontario’s power plants. But the plan became a problem for the Liberals when <em>the Globe and Mail </em>revealed that the government tried to exempt their plans from environmental assessments. Photo: Shutterstock
The government’s plans to modernize medical records in the province ran into massive scandal when reports of overspending, waste and possible conflict of interest were revealed at <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EHealth_Ontario">eHealth</a>, the agency responsible for building a new electronic records system. The scandal forced the resignation of Health Minister David Caplan. <P>Photo: Shutterstock
G20 Police Laws
Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals were criticized for laws giving police greater powers to ensure security during the <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2010/12/08/mcguinty-g20-ombudsman-report652.html">G20 in 2010</a>. The laws were seen by civil rights groups as draconian. Andre Marin, Ontario’s ombudsman also <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/902817--ombudsman-charges-g20-secret-law-was-illegal">criticized the government</a> calling the laws and police action a massive violation of civil rights. <p>Photo: AP Files/Carolyn Kaster
Ontario’s air ambulance service, Ornge, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/tag/ornge-scandal">caused another headache for McGuinty’s Liberals</a> after reports of financial irregularities, cost overruns, huge salaries for managers being kept secret and reports of kickbacks began to emerge in the media. <P>Photo: CP/Globe and Mail
Canceled Power Plants
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