The Ontario health-care world is abuzz about the latest development in the ongoing battle between the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), its members, particularly those who are opposed to the tentative Patient Services Agreement (PSA), and the provincial government.
Yesterday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice issued Justice Paul Perell's complete ruling on the court challenge that the Ontario Association of Radiologists (OAR) had launched against the OMA for the way in which it had called the General Meeting, scheduled to take place on August 14, 2016.
More specifically, the OAR requested interlocutory relief on the following:
1. an Order directing the OMA and Mr. (Tom) Magyarody to deliver a new notice of the general meeting (which is scheduled for August 14, 2016) in the form attached to the Applicants' July 22, 2016 Notice of Motion as Schedule "A";
2. an Order directing the OMA to deliver a form of proxy that allows members to direct their proxyholder's vote on all of the resolutions set out in the Applicants' form of notice (i.e., the aforesaid Schedule "A");
3. an Order directing the OMA to provide a membership list that includes, in addition to the information already provided about names, addresses, and email addresses, information about the members' phone numbers including cellular phone numbers; and
4. an Order appointing a neutral chair to preside over the meeting of the members scheduled for August 14, 2016.
Justice Perell dismissed the first, third, and fourth request but granted the second. If we are keeping score as you do in war, then it appears as though the OMA emerged victorious. OMA 3, doctors 1. This is certainly how the OMA has chosen to frame it.
However, if you look beyond the numbers and focus on Justice Perell's reasoning and reprimanding tone towards the OMA, there's no question that this could be considered a victory for the opposing doctors, even if just a small one. As the National Post's Terence Corcoran writes, Justice Perell's decision "has the potential to undermine the credibility of the Ontario Medical Association".
In his ruling, Justice Perell says "in my opinion, the Executive Committee (of the OMA) has abused the authority provided to it..." Furthermore, he characterizes the way in which the proxy vote was prepared as "unfair and confusing if not somewhat sneaky" and "is a catalyst for a governance meltdown at the upcoming general meeting."
He goes on to say "the propriety of the proxy form is not a trivial matter in corporate law. The proxy system is a fundamental instrument of shareholder or member participation in the affairs of the corporation, be it a business corporation, a not-for-profit organization, a non-governmental organization, or an association like the OMA that plays an extremely important role in civil society."
Regardless of who can be considered the winner and loser in this case, this ruling needs to be treated as a serious wake-up call signaling that there is something very wrong with this system.
As a result of this ruling, the OMA has been ordered to reissue a new proxy form that includes all three resolutions for members to vote on:
1. Resolution to ratify the 2016 Physician Services Agreement (as defined in the Notice of Meeting).
2. Resolution that in the future the Directors and/or Council should not negotiate an agreement with the Ministry that does not include a right to refer disputes concerning implementation of the agreement to binding arbitration.
3. Resolution that in all future negotiations between the Association and the Ministry every OMA Section Chair should be kept fully apprised throughout the negotiations of the ongoing discussions including the issues, the proposed terms and the status and that each should be given timely and meaningful opportunities to provide input on such issues and terms as the discussions evolve, and again before the Association agrees to a form of Agreement.
While this ruling immediately satisfies the OAR's request regarding the proxy form, I would go one step further and ask: why not have every Section Chair be part of the bargaining team? They are the ones who know exactly what issues and challenges each medical specialty faces and what is required for specialists to do their jobs properly. They also understand how Ontario's changing demographics will impact service and care in the future.
Regardless of who can be considered the winner and loser in this case, this ruling needs to be treated as a serious wake-up call signaling that there is something very wrong with this system. The very fact that a profession must litigate against its own bargaining unit to ensure that they get a fair and unbiased voting process is shocking and appalling. And quite frankly, the government should be embarrassed that they have allowed this to happen.
Ever since the OMA 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.
In the normal course of action, it is acceptable for a union to urge its members to support a deal that it feels is in their best interest but when there is a significant portion of the membership that has legitimate concerns, then it should be taken to a general meeting and the union should let its members "vote their conscience" instead of trying to silence them. Or in the case of the OMA, push them to vote yes with convoluted instructions, aggressive PR tactics such as robocalls, and rigging votes.
When you consider that our physicians spend decades on education and training, graduate with mountains of debt, and dedicate their lives to saving others, yet are being denied access to basic democratic rights such as choosing their own bargaining agent or negotiating with provisions for binding arbitration, then sadly, there is no question who the losers are.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Many women start to feel like they're dragging in their late 30s and 40s. They're losing testosterone, which may act as an antidepressant, and experiencing a flux in their levels of estrogen and progesterone, which may also influence mood and energy. One of the most effective tactics for perking up comes down to how you plan your meals. "Many of my clients seem to think that by filling one meal with energy-generating nutrients -- say, a green smoothie for breakfast or a salad at lunch -- they've done their duty for the day," says dietitian Ashley Koff. "But your body needs several energy pit stops so you can refuel." Koff suggests small meals every three hours that combine a variety of nutrients. Her energy-boosting meal plan: Breakfast: Oatmeal with hempseeds. A.M. snack: Half cup of cottage cheese with berries. Lunch: Half a turkey sandwich with salad. P.M. snack: Half cup of tuna salad with wheat crackers. Dinner: Wild salmon with nonstarchy veggies.
Two free surefire solutions: diet and exercise. Losing even a few pounds can provide tremendous relief. One study found that for every pound you drop, you take four pounds of pressure off your knees. "Low-impact exercises -- walking, swimming, cycling -- help maintain a healthy weight and muscle mass as well as release endorphins, all of which can lead to a decrease in pain," says Roxanne Wallace, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin.
Down, girl. As long as you have no open wounds, you can welcome Sparky's affection. "A healthy immune system is strong enough to fight off most bacteria in a pet's saliva," says Jennifer Gabriele, a vet at Heart of Chelsea Animal Hospital in New York City.
really the new evil?"" width="52" height="52"/>
Sorry, cupcake, it doesn't look good. Too much of the sweet stuff can wreak havoc on your entire body. Added sugars have been associated with inflammation, a condition linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. In fact, a 2014 study found that people who consumed 17 to 21 percent of their daily calories from added sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease than those who got only 8 percent. For most women, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories from added sugar daily.
You can ignore the old eight-glasses rule: Six is typically plenty to hydrate you and keep everything in working order, according to a review in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
You may have small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a condition common among those suffering from chronic bloating. SIBO can occur when bacteria in the colon migrate up into the small intestine and ferment the carbs passing through, creating gas. Consider switching to a diet low in fermentable foods (which include dairy, wheat, and high-fructose fruits) so the bacteria will have less to feast on, says Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist Gerard E. Mullin, MD, author of The Gut Balance Revolution. Research has shown that the plan works: A study in the journal Gastroenterology found that the majority of subjects with irritable bowel syndrome reported significantly less bloating when they followed a diet low in bacteria-loving foods.
"If you misrepresent the facts, you limit what your doctor can do for you," says Lissa Hirsch, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Some of your lies will be revealed by your blood work or the number on the scale, but otherwise your doctor has nothing to go on but what you report -- and that could be dangerous. Say you fib and tell her you're following a diet and exercise program to lower your blood sugar. When your "plan" doesn't seem to be working, she may prescribe medication you don't need, unwittingly putting you at risk for unnecessary side effects. In other words, when your pants are on fire, you'll be the one who gets burned.
Depends on what you're eating, says health reporter Catherine Price, who spent three years putting that question to more than a dozen top doctors and researchers for her recent book, Vitamania: Our Obsessive Quest for Nutritional Perfection. "If you're eating a good amount of foods naturally rich in vitamins, like produce, and those that are fortified, like cereal or bread, a multivitamin is probably superfluous," she says.* But if you do decide to take one, keep in mind that the FDA doesn't test dietary supplements to ensure that what's on the label is actually what's in the bottle. Check for a seal that says NSF or USP VERIFIED -- both are respected third-party companies that vitamin-makers can pay to review their products. *A multivitamin containing folic acid is always a good idea for women during their reproductive years.
Of course no one has a magic formula, but Marie Bernard, MD, deputy director of the National Institute on Aging, has a few ideas: See your doctor regularly. "At the turn of the 20th century, the average American life-span was about 45 to 50 years," says Bernard. "Today people live well into their 70s and beyond, and many experts believe that increase is due in part to preventive health measures." Maintain friendships. A new Brigham Young University review revealed that social isolation increases your risk of mortality by up to 32 percent -- on par with obesity. Learn a new skill. A recent University of Texas at Dallas study found that people who mastered a new and challenging skill (like digital photography or quilting) showed greater gains in memory than those who performed passive activities, like crossword puzzles. So get out there and start learning!
Follow Tracey Tremayne-Lloyd on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TTLHealthLaw