Please use the following template email your OMA section chair as well as the head of the Physician Action Working Group.
Over the past year, tensions have been rising between the medical profession and the Ontario government. Many physicians remain deeply frustrated by cuts to the OHIP fee schedule, caps on billings, and restrictions on the ability to join certain practice types. The demand for binding arbitration has been another source of conflict with Queen’s Park; however, on February 16th, Premier Wynne and Minister Hoskins made a commitment to the principle of binding interest arbitration for Ontario physicians going into the next round of negotiations.
Despite this encouraging step, some members of the medical profession continue to push for physician job action. In an email communication on February 28th, the OMA Physician Action Working Group chair Robert Swenson encouraged members to fill out a survey about potential job actions. It was stated that having job actions planned even while negotiations happen would be part of an “integrated negotiations strategy”.
Physician job action has been attempted in Ontario in the past, most notably in 1986, when some physicians participated in job action to protest legislation introduced to ban the practice of extra-billing. Ultimately, the strike failed to change the government’s position, and the service withdrawals were widely believed to have eroded the public’s trust in the medical profession. At this juncture, it seems unlikely that physician job action would accomplish anything beyond painting our profession as primarily self-interested and unwilling to share the burden of budget cuts required during the current economic climate. More importantly, it would reduce access to health services, disproportionately affecting patients from a lower socioeconomic status who tend to be more sick and have more difficulty accessing care.
We are all frustrated by the current state of affairs. We all see ways that our system can be improved for our patients. However, physician job action has no place in a strategy that puts patients first, and we urge you to reject it moving forwards.