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Canada, and especially Ontario, has become an increasingly unattractive place to practice as a doctor.
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Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne basically has little choice now. The differences are irreconcilable.
Two weeks before Christmas and just as Queen's Park Legislature stops all business until February 2017, Ontario's minister of health lobbed an explosive proposal at doctors in the province. Though Ontario's physicians have been working without a contract since March 2014, the government's latest PR stunt was met with widespread fury.
The Canadian Press
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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Health Minister Eric Hoskins said he's disappointed by the decision.
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Many voting against the PSA argue that a fixed budget prevents physicians from providing necessary care to patients. No one is suggesting this. Patients who need care will be seen, necessary tests and surgeries will be done, family and specialist clinics will still see patients and physicians will continue to get paid to provide these services.
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Merits and failings of the contract aside, many wonder about the aftermath of this vote. Ratify the contract and what -- ration care and pinch pennies? Reject the contract and what -- face a vengeful government's unilateral cuts? The uncertainty inherent in the contract is mirrored by the uncertainty of the unilateral actions that we have weathered for the past 18 months.
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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.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyc
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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We need health-care reform. To do that, we need an honest conversation between patients, government and front-line workers about what can be covered, what should be covered and what must be covered. We can't have it all. So we need to talk about what we all can have. To get there, doctors must be part of the conversation.
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Ontario's College of Physicians and Surgeons receives numerous deeply concerning reports of doctors sexually abusing their patients each year despite the adoption of a "zero tolerance" approach to such abuse 20 years ago. This persistent problem has eroded public trust in doctor self-regulation.
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Only 44% of residents can get a same-day or next-day appointment.
The health minister argued Ontario's doctors are among the best-paid in the country with an average salary of more than $358,000.
Dr. Hoskins, you in particular have been very fortunate to have worked in many positions where you could be in charge, and set you own terms. While you clearly understand the hard work, dedication and passion it takes to get through medical school and residency, I don't think you appreciate the frustration that comes when, after all that, your voice is not accepted when you advocate for your patients.
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The opposition parties accuse the Ontario government of needlessly picking a fight with doctors.
Ask yourself this: Do you have to pay back part of your salary because your employer is poorly run and losing money? Do you have to start saving six months in advance for potentially not being paid two and half months and not being told exactly how much until only months before you're getting the cuts?
Health Minister Eric Hoskins is defending the Ontario government's decision to eliminate 50 medical residency positions when hundreds of thousands of people don't have a family doctor.
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