It's time for government to get back to the table and negotiate fairly: Ontario's doctors
TORONTO, May 3, 2012 /CNW/ - For over two weeks, the Ontario government has stalled and refused to accept an offer from Ontario's doctors to appoint a Conciliator to help with the ongoing negotiations. So today, Dr. Stewart Kennedy, President of the Ontario Medical Association delivered a list of potential conciliators for the government to choose from so negotiations can continue. Dr. Kennedy urged the government to come back to the table and negotiate instead of proceeding unilaterally to cut over $1 billion in fees and programs over the next four years.
Ontario's doctors have put forward several proposals throughout the negotiation process including the most recent offer of a two year freeze on physician fees and to find an additional $250 million in savings in health care, on top of the $300 million already identified. Every proposal has been rejected by the government. In contrast, the government has only come to the table with one proposal and are not negotiating.
The OMA's request for the government to return to the table to continue negotiations with the assistance of an independent third party Conciliator to help the parties resolve their differences has been repeatedly rejected.
Dr. Kennedy said the government's scheme to cut fees and programs will make it harder to recruit and retain doctors. Recognizing the growing and ageing population, this will mean longer wait times for most services. It will also mean that patients in Ontario who still don't have a family doctor will either wait longer to find one or won't be able to find one at all. He also noted that the government will not provide any new funding to compensate the 700 new physicians that will begin practicing this year and that might mean they choose other jurisdictions where they would be welcomed, rather than attacked and not supported.
"Patients expect the government to sit down with Ontario's doctors and have a mature, adult conversation about how to address and fix the challenges in our health care system. Negotiating is a process and it can be difficult sometimes. But holding your breath until you get what you want is not negotiating."
"If the government isn't willing to budge then it's time for some professional help with the assistance of a Conciliator. All we're asking is for the government to come to the table with an open mind and willingness to really negotiate. Unilaterally imposing over $1 billion in cuts to fees and programs is not negotiating."
Stewart Kennedy, MD
Ontario Medical Association
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