Doctor wait times could increase if fee cuts occur: OMA
Published Friday, April 27, 2012 8:36PM EDT
The Ontario Medical Association is warning that wait times at the doctor's office could get even longer as a labour dispute continues between doctors and the province.
The province's contract with doctors has expired and the two sides have come to an impasse as the province tries to get doctors to accept fee cuts for certain procedures in addition to a two-year wage freeze.
Doctors bill the province for each procedure they perform, and the province argues that new technologies mean some procedures now cost lest than they used to and should be billed at a lower amount.
The province isn't negotiating, said OMA president Dr. Stewart Kennedy.
"They're not moving, at all," he said.
He predicts some doctors may leave the province, or may be dissuaded from setting up practices in Ontario, should the government move forward with its plan to freeze salaries and cut fees.
The province is already short 1,000 physicians, Kennedy said, and nearly one million people don't have a family doctor.
He is also upset with the way the province is portraying how much money doctors actually make, accusing them of not telling the public the truth.
In a physician's practice, about 40 per cent of revenues go to fees, including rent and staffing costs, Kennedy said.
"We are employers. We actually hire staff. We pay rent," Kennedy said. "I wish they'd get the numbers correct and would actually be honest with the public for a change."
Premier Dalton McGuinty told CTV News earlier this week that there simply isn't any more money to pay doctors, saying he has already given them plenty of incentives during his tenure as premier and that doctors need to take a two-year pay freeze.
"Those folks have all had responsible pay increases to this point in time," McGuinty said. "We're not talking about taking away jobs. We're just talking about hitting the pause button for a couple of years."
Health Minister Deb Matthews said doctors are already well compensated, with the average doctor making $385,000 a year.
"That's 10 times what the average Ontarian is making," Matthews said. "What we're saying to the OMA is, we want to protect the gains we've made. We already spend $11 billion on physicians and compensation. We want to protect that."
Doctors are not represented by a union, so they do not have the right to strike during labour negotiations.
Kennedy said there are no plans for doctors to withhold services, but he is hoping the government will still come up with a reasonable offer.
With files from CTV Toronto's Paul Bliss