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____ Friday February 26, 2016 ____


Ontario Budget 2016

Ontario budget fails to address growing demand for physician services

Toronto - The Ontario government failed to make funding for medical care a priority in its 2016 provincial budget, says the Ontario Medical Association. At a time when Ontario's population is growing and aging, the government has cut the funding it provides for physician services by nearly seven per cent, resulting in a serious threat to quality, patient-focused care.

"Over the past several months, we have heard very clearly from patients across Ontario that funding for the necessary care that doctors provide must be a key funding priority," said Dr. Mike Toth, President of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). "While the government made several references in the budget to Ontario's growing and aging population, it continues to fail to provide the necessary funding to meet the growing needs of our province. By not adequately investing in funding for physician services, the government is threatening access to the quality, patient-focused care Ontarians need and expect," said Dr. Toth.

A recent public opinion poll independently conducted by Angus Reid Forum and commissioned by the OMA, revealed that 89 per cent of Ontarians believe funding for physician services should be a priority in the 2016 provincial budget.

In addition to the poll, more than 60,000 Ontarians have signed a petition or signed up online to oppose the government's ongoing cuts to the necessary care doctors provide every day. Furthermore, the proposal to fully fund medical care finished first in the Budget Talks (an online, public consultation tool offered by the Ontario government) health care category, as voted on by Ontarians as part of the government's online pre-budget consultations.

Since February 2015, the government has unilaterally cut almost seven per cent in the funding it provides for physician services. Additionally, the government imposed a hard cap on the total amount it will pay for the publicly-funded care doctors provide. During this time, Ontario's patients have experienced increased wait-times for tests and procedures; across the province, several clinics have closed, while others have reduced or laid off office staff.

"Finally, the government states it 'respects the OMA's right to represent all of Ontario's physicians and will continue to actively consult them on physician compensation,'" said Dr. Toth. "The OMA would welcome the opportunity to enter into binding arbitration to achieve a Physician Services Agreement."

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.

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