A doctors advocacy group is calling the new tentative physician contract “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Thousands of doctors of Concerned Ontario Doctors were angered to hear the Ontario Medical Association struck a four-year tentative deal with the province when they “had no inkling negotiations were even taking place,” – instead hearing about the contract through the media.
Next week, the group representing 14,000 physicians across the province, plan on protesting outside the OMA building and the Ministry of Health offices.
“It makes no sense to us – it’s the height of hypocrisy,” said spokesman Dr. Nadia Alam. “We’ve been protesting underfunding the healthcare system. And now we’re being turned around and asked to accept a contract that allows more of the same. We’re going to be asking members to seriously look at the contract – and no the sunshine and lollipops summary they’ve sent out, but the actual details.”
The deal includes annual increases to the physician services budget – currently over $11 billion a year – and would see both sides working together to look at where they can save, provide annual funding for hiring new doctors and improvements to access to primary care. The vote is scheduled in August.
OMA president Dr. Virginia Walley said this deal provides a starting point for that relationship to be repaired.
“This is the opportunity to … work together to rebuild that trust in the interests of patients and patient care,” she said.
Dr. Eric Hoskins has said the ministry is making sure it’s investing in the most dire deficiencies to make the appropriate changes.
According to COD, over the next four years, the Liberals are willing to fund only 2.5% growth in the patient services physicians deliver, ignoring warnings from the Financial Accountability Office’s report they must fund 3.1% to maintain the bare minimum in healthcare, and fund 5.2% to maintain the status quo. Historically, this increase can go as high as 7%.
“The details of the contract reveal that it is a series of cuts disguised as investments,” said Alam.
“The government is ignoring the current degree of patient suffering. It is ignoring the clinics that have closed, the physicians who have left, the waitlists that spiral out of control and the one million Ontarians who have no access to family doctors. Instead of offering to work collaboratively to rebuild the healthcare system, the government is instead offering more cuts.”
– With files by the Canadian Press