Statement From the Minister Of Health and Long-Term Care Regarding OMA Arbitration Award
Our Government for the People values the significant contribution of Ontario's doctors in providing safe, effective and quality care to people and families across the province. For the first time in years, we have a solid contract with Ontario's physicians.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (Ministry) has received Arbitrator Kaplan's award with regards to our physician contract negotiations with the Ontario Medical Association (OMA).
As negotiations were initiated and subsequently deteriorated under the previous Liberal government, we inherited an unfortunate situation regarding Ontario's relationship with doctors that was unproductive for both parties. It has therefore been our objective from the start that we reset the relationship with Ontario's doctors in a way that both respects Ontario's physicians, while balancing the need to provide patients with the care they deserve with the sustainability of our public health care system.
As physicians are at the forefront of patient care and delivery, and the Physician Service Budget (PSB) accounts for significant portion of the Ministry's annual budget, negotiations with respect to the PSB are a critical component of the Ontario public health care system.
Our government respects the decision of the Arbitration Board, and believes that the award is workable. As with any award of this nature, we achieved some elements sought by government and the OMA achieved elements sought by their membership.
However, we believe the award is fair and we see great opportunity in achieving our government's objectives by including:
- A four-year term
- The establishment of a new working group to address primary care matters
- A process to partner with the OMA to explore changes in how care is provided called an Appropriateness Working Group (AWG)
- Average annual fee increases of 1% per year over four years
- Restoration of the previous government's cuts (approximately 3.5%)
- A $10 million increase to the Academic Health Sciences innovation fund.
We look forward to continuing to work with the OMA through our Primary Care Working Group to address many critical issues such as improved access to family physicians. In addition, through the newly awarded Appropriateness Working Group, we will partner with Ontario physicians to identify ways to improve health care delivery while ensuring the appropriate provision of care.
Our government believes that this award is a positive step forward, and we are committed to a renewed and productive working relationship with the OMA and Ontario's doctors.I want to thank the Arbitration board, the OMA and Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care staff for their efforts in this process. Together, we will improve the quality of our health care system and now turn to focusing on the needs of Ontario's patients.