The Ontario government and the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) have reached a tentative four-year agreement that would, if ratified, strengthen the quality, access and timeliness of health care while providing a predictable physician services budget.
The tentative agreement contains annual increases to the Physician Services Budget that are limited to the costs of population growth, an aging society and funding for continued growth in supply of doctors.
Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, said: “On behalf of the people and patients of Ontario, I am pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the Ontario Medical Association. Physicians play a crucial role in the lives of patients and I know how hard they work to deliver the highest quality care to their patients every day. This agreement will strengthen the long-term sustainability of our health care system while taking new steps to boost access, quality and timeliness of care.”
Dr. Virginia Walley, President, Ontario Medical Association, added: “Ontario’s doctors continue to work hard to put patients first. The proposed agreement is the result of much discussion, and goes to members with the commitment that Ontario’s doctors can continue to do what they do best – care for patients – with a reasonable expectation that there will be no more unilateral action from government. It means that physicians and government can once again work together on important system changes that will entrench stability, predictability, and sustainability for patients, physicians and government, now and in the years to come.”
It would also ensure a more sustainable healthcare system for the future, allow for the addition of new doctors each year, fortify the Primary Care Guarantee for patients and support the realignment of physician compensation around valued mutual priorities and services, an official statement said.
Key components of agreement
Other key components of the tentative agreement include:
- Funding that allows for the addition of new physicians annually to meet the needs of Ontario’s growing and aging population.
- A commitment to work together to implement the Primary Care Guarantee to ensure that every Ontarian who wants one has a primary care provider.
- A commitment to work together to improve access to primary care for patients, including same day/next day visits for urgent conditions and primary care coverage on evenings, weekends and holidays.
- Co-management of the Physician Services Budget that would allow both parties to work together to jointly identify savings, update fee codes and account for technological change, among other measures.
- One-time funding in each year of the agreement to further support health care priorities for patients.
A permanent facilitator with health expertise will be jointly selected by the OMA and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to assist in co-management and will be used to provide a binding resolution to assist in solving certain disputes if needed.
The tentative agreement would provide annual increases to health care investments in Ontario and is within the government’s fiscal plan.
The tentative agreement has received the support and recommendation of the OMA Board of Directors and will be voted upon by the province’s physicians. The full document would be made public following a ratification vote by the OMA Council in August. – CINEWS