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____ Thursday October 29 , 2015 ____

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Medical Association Statement

Government threatens patients' access to care by imposing restrictions on new family doctors

Toronto - Ontario's doctors have significant concerns with the New Graduate Entry Program (NGEP), which has been unilaterally imposed by the Ontario government. Combined with the government's ongoing and unilateral cuts to funding for physician services, this new program is short-sighted and threatens access to the quality, patient-focused care Ontarians need and depend on.

The NGEP is an untested care model that will be imposed on new family medicine graduates who are looking to join a Family Health Network or Family Health Organization in areas other than those considered high needs by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The program will place a number of restrictions on the way new family doctors are able to practice and receive funding from the government.

By imposing this new program, the Ontario government is sending a message that new physicians are not as valued because of where they are looking to practice medicine. As a result, some new graduates in family medicine who are starting their careers and choosing where to practice might second-guess any decisions to practice in Ontario.

Furthermore, while graduates now entering the NGEP will be required to sign agreements that commit them to meeting performance targets around access, performance metrics and patient satisfaction, the government has provided no details and will not have this information available for many months.

Ultimately, the NGEP is the Ontario government's attempt to fix problems with the Managed Entry Program it introduced as part of its unilateral action announced in January 2015. This is another clear indication that the Ontario government should consult with Ontario's doctors before making unilateral decisions about the province's health-care system.

"Yet again, the government is imposing changes on the health-care system without consultation and input from doctors to the detriment of quality care," said Dr. Mike Toth, President of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). "This second attempt at starting a program for our new family medicine graduates only underscores the immediate need for the provincial government to achieve a Physician Services Agreement that protects the quality patient-focused care that patients need and depend on."

Instead of unilaterally imposing this program, the government has an obligation under the Representation Rights Agreement and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to negotiate the NGEP with the Ontario Medical Association as part of the Physician Services Agreement.

Ontario's doctors are launching a Charter challenge against the Ontario government as a result of the province rejecting the OMA's reasonable request to establish a binding dispute resolution mechanism to achieve an agreement and protect quality, patient-focused care.

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) represents more than 34,000 physicians and medical students across the province. Ontario's doctors work closely with patients to encourage healthy living practices and illness prevention. In addition to delivering front-line services to patients, Ontario's doctors play a significant role in helping shape health care policy, as well as implementing initiatives that strengthen and enhance Ontario's health care system.

SOURCE Ontario Medical Association

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