December 21, 2016 marks the first anniversary of the launch of the Ontario Fertility Program. Designed to improve access to assisted reproduction technologies for the one in six Ontarians living with infertility, the program contributes to the medical costs required for procedures such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), fertility preservation (FP) and in vitro fertilization (IVF).
For Christmas, all Ontario doctors asked for was a brief respite from the toxic relationship between them and the Ontario Government of Premier Kathleen Wynne. They realized it would be too much to ask for an acceptable Physician Services Agreement after three years without one, but a couple of weeks without internecine politicking would have been welcome this holiday season.
Ontario needs genuine health-system reform. Instead we get the Patients First Act. Doctors are hopping mad. So we are turning our backs on those who willfully ignore our warnings and our advice. They will now stand alone as their committees waste more time and taxpayer money on a sketchy health-care "transformation."
Why? Universal drug plans mean national bodies negotiate fairer prices for prescription drugs. The results are dramatic. So, while some critics claim that universal prescription drug insurance is a nice idea, but not affordable - it's very clear that universal prescription drug insurance is actually the key to affordability.
A Charter challenge is underway at the Supreme Court of B.C., championed by Dr. Brian Day, owner of the Cambie Surgical Centre. Day is arguing that the laws currently prohibiting doctors in Canada from practicing in the public and private health sectors simultaneously should be struck down, along with the prohibition on the extra billing of patients for services already covered by the provincial health plan.
The past two years have seen a significant deterioration in the relationship between Ontario's physicians, and the Liberal government of Premier Kathleen Wynne and her health minister, Eric Hoskins. Rather than just protest, Health City's plan is to bring awareness of the health care crisis to the general public, and also educate them as to what they can do to fight for proper health care services in Ontario.
It's been reported that Canada spends the fourth most per capita on health care of all of the industrialized countries in the world. Yet, despite all that money being spent, Canada's health-care system currently ranks 30th in the world, according to the World Health Organization and last amongst all OECD countries in terms of wait times.
Publicly-funded hospitals are not constituted "primarily for religious purposes." All Ontario hospitals, Catholic and others, exist to deliver medically necessary services, and all are funded by provinces for that purpose. All hospitals offer the aid and support of religious counsel to families that request it. All hospitals have quiet spaces for reflection and prayer.
As Eric Hoskins knows very well, infrastructure itself doesn't have much value. What has a lot of value is patient data. This type of data is a treasure trove for private businesses and would be worth a lot of money to them. Just look at how Facebook has been able to monetize the personal information it has stored on all its "friends."
Hundreds of codeine tablets stolen from the medicine cabinet of an elderly person living alone in a rural community. Hydromorphone tablets being distributed at weddings and high school parties. Fentanyl patches being cut up and sold for a profit on the street. This is the reality of the opioid crisis in Canada today.
We hope the failure of negotiations in Ontario spurs a complete rethink of this approach. Maybe what we want to do is limit a la carte billing for doctor services in the first place, and have far clearer contractual directives against cost-ineffective treatments and towards quality, safe and high-value care.
It was another tumultuous week in Ontario, as the province's seemingly never-ending battle with its physicians continued. The grand Hoskins scheme now seems to be to sow discord amongst physicians so they fight amongst themselves. He knows that if physicians unite against Bill 210, as they did against the tPSA, he will never be able to succeed in implementing his plans.
By rejecting the PSA, physicians have turned their backs on the proposed system of co-management. Physicians have clearly identified that they can see the failings of the system and it is critical that those perspectives are heard by government to ensure that the solutions implemented are effective.
The General Meeting was the result of extremely tenacious activism on the part of the Concerned Ontario Doctors (COD) group, co-led by Dr. Nadia Alam and Dr. Kulvinder Gill. However, the OMA corporation, couldn't hold off the relatively sparsely funded COD, and in an epic piece of medical history, could barely garner 37 per cent of the vote of the membership in favour of their proposed agreement.
Ever since the Ontario Medical Association was mandated by the government to act as the bargaining agent for Ontario doctors, this profession has been subjected to undemocratic and disrespectful disregard by both the government and the OMA, which is supposed to be fighting for them from their corner, not fighting them in a courtroom.
Why does the government continue to refuse to "consent" to binding arbitration for doctors when it is part and parcel to the negotiation process for all other sectors, both public and private? Their refusal has led to the lengthy delay that has left doctors without an agreement for more than two years and has forced them to challenge the government under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In a country as diverse and varied as Canada, such a per capita funding model creates winners and losers. For provinces with flourishing economies and/or younger populations, the formula may be a welcome one. But for many provinces and territories, this funding formula fails to recognize and accommodate their particular challenges and needs.