03/23/2016 13:13 EDT | Updated 03/24/2017 01:12 EDT

Ontario government complains about "out of control" doctors' billings

TORONTO — Health Minister Eric Hoskins says "out of control billing" by some Ontario doctors is leaving less money for home care and other vital services.

Hoskins says there are no caps on billings by Ontario doctors, so they essentially set their own salaries, and at an average of $360,000 a year are the highest paid in Canada.

But he says unpredictable billing allows some specialists to earn several times the average, and forces the government to find hundreds of millions of dollars on top of the $11 billion set aside annually for physician compensation.

Hoskins says it's not right that high-billing specialists pull funds away from family doctors and other health care priorities.

Ontario Medical Association president Dr. Mike Toth says he's quite surprised and disappointed by Hoskins' comments, and insists the best way to get a new deal with doctors is for the government to agree to binding arbitration.

The OMA launched a constitutional challenge last fall after the Liberal government imposed fee cuts of 6.9 per cent on doctors, but Toth says the real goal is to get a binding dispute resolution mechanism.

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The Canadian Press