Statement from the Minister of Health and Long Term Care on Physician Services in Ontario
Today, Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, issued the following statement:
"Physicians play a vital role in the lives of Ontario patients and I know how hard they work to deliver the highest quality care to their patients every day. For that, they are the best paid doctors in Canada, making $368,000 on average per year before expenses according to the Canadian Institute of Health Information. And they deserve to be well compensated because they are the best at what they do.
For more than a year now, my ministry and I have been urging the Ontario Medical Association to return to the table and negotiate a new agreement with doctors - an agreement that will ensure that they remain well compensated, but that also results in a predictable and fair budget for physician compensation.
We increased the budget for paying physicians by $140 million. This is evidence-based and recognizes the fact that Ontario has a growing and aging population. We also need to address a fundamental issue of fairness in how we pay physicians. The current structure allows certain high-billing physicians to generate income many times the average doctor's salary, which is due, in part, to the fact that the fee structure has not kept pace with medical and technological advances.
As a result of technological advances, certain high-billing physicians have seen their incomes rise to three or more times that of family doctors, paediatricians, psychiatrists, public health doctors and others. In 2014-15, more than 500 physicians each billed OHIP more than $1 million a year, with a single physician billing OHIP a staggering $6.6 million. Although these top billers represent less than two per cent of physicians, they account for nearly 10 per cent of billings. The number of physicians billing over $1 million has risen in recent years, and we need the OMA to come back to the table and negotiate a deal that addresses this important issue of fairness and sustainability.
Over the last four years, physicians billed $744 million dollars over the budget that had been set for them. We pay physicians more than $11 billion each year and when they bill more than that budget, the money has to come from elsewhere in the health care system, limiting our ability to invest in home care, hospitals, mental health and other services.
We have a solid track record of working together to improve the health care system as partners. Our government has consistently and repeatedly indicated to the OMA our readiness to resume negotiations, but the OMA has refused to return to the negotiating table. On April 4th, I sent the OMA a letter, outlining our continued desire to return to formal negotiations. I continue to urge the OMA to come back to the table and help us manage the system in a way that benefits both physicians and patients in a fair and sustainable way. We remain focused on achieving that goal. But we can only do that if we have a willing partner."