Toronto Mayor Rob Ford thinks doctors and others in the “medical field” should not be advocates for the poor, even though the social determinants of health are a key factor in an individual’s wellness.
On Monday Ford’s complaint against such a doctor went forward at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).
Ford complained to the professional college about Dr. Roland Wong, who by his own admission helped people on social assistance fill out more than 15,000 forms to access the now cancelled special diet program.
In a memo sent out to activists, Health4All states “we cannot accept the bullying of doctors who advocate for the poor. We need to let the CPSO know that poor people, and their allies, including those in health care, will not stay home when one of our community members comes under attack.”
According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), Wong insists he never acted improperly or illegally in assisting social assistant recipients with the forms. In addition to signing the special diet forms for his own patients, Wong also assisted others attending special clinics organized by poverty advocates.
The special diet provided additional social assistance benefits of up to $250 per month to allow individuals to buy healthy food because of their medical condition. The Liberals cancelled the benefit after costs increased from $6 million in 2001/02 to $220 million in 2009/10, a move doctors have called short-sighted.
This is not the first time Ford has tried to silence critics by suggesting they have no right to speak out on important issues. Ford supporters questioned Margaret Atwood’s right to speak out about proposed cuts to the city’s libraries. Councillor Doug Ford, the Mayor’s brother, suggested to the Toronto Star that she should get elected or pipe down.