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A breakthrough in negotiations has Premier Kathleen Wynne sounding optimistic about an eventual deal with doctors. Yet doctors in Ontario remain thoughtful and wary after a hard-fought battle for Binding Arbitration. Look around. The health-care system is broken.
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This past weekend, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), held its bi-annual council meeting. The council is the governing body of the OMA and sets policy for the organization. It was clear from the enthusiasm and the passion exhibited that the OMA has turned a new leaf.
If we are ever going to resolve the doctors' struggle with the government and the broken health care system all around us, we are going to have to look past simplistic right vs. left narratives and deal with some hard and complex truths.
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The growing awareness that something is seriously, and fundamentally wrong with the health-care system is sure to envelop Minister Hoskins this year. Maybe then he'll stop playing politics, and actually work in true partnership with all health-care workers, to deliver the improvements our health-care system so badly needs.
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.
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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."
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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.
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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.
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Health Minister Eric Hoskins said he's disappointed by the decision.
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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.
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These are challenging times for physicians, governments and patients. We need to have peace and we need to rebuild trust in order to improve the health system in Ontario and the health of our patients. After 18 months of scorched earth tactics we are open to trying something different.
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The OMA ramped up their aggressive endorsement: ads appeared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Calls for a balanced discussion were met with threats from the OMA: "it's either the PSA or more cuts." Rules govern how such votes occur. The OMA's methods rigged the votes towards a "yes," seemingly breaching them all.
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If it's approved it will hurt your ability to get a family physician if you don't have one. It will increase wait times for diagnostic tests and specialists. It will decrease Ontario's already low physician to patient ratio (currently seventh out of the 10 provinces).
Part of this strategy includes something that makes us all uncomfortable and would make any politician unpopular very quickly if they ever suggested it: patient, government and physician accountability. We all take responsibility for making our health care system sustainable. Seems simple in principle, but what would that really look like?