Docs take McGuinty to court – case likely to decide whether government can unilaterally impose fee schedules and wage freezes

Ontario’s doctors are fighting back after the government unilaterally cut $340 million in fees last month.

The Ontario Medical Association is applying to the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice for a review of the government’s negotiations tactics and the imposition of fee cuts.

The doctors are arguing the landmark BC case in which the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the right to collective bargaining should be extended to the OMA, which has negotiated the fee schedule with government since the beginning of Medicare.

According to a release by the OMA, the doctors are asking the court to
• Decide that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to doctors;
• Order the government to bargain in good faith; and
• Reverse the $340 million in fee cuts

“While other provincial governments are working collaboratively with their physicians, the McGuinty government continues to choose politics over patients,” OMA President Dr. Doug Weir said in the release. “I really believed that in the interest of patient-care the government would want to get back to the table and negotiate fairly.”

The case will be watched closely by others in the labour movement. Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said that if the government did not achieve its objectives through collective bargaining, that it would introduce legislation to achieve that aim.

The doctor’s case will likely be a strong indicator whether such legislation would ever succeed in the courts.

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