OMA Deal: Surprise! Bargaining works

It’s a sign of our times when a simple labour agreement can be framed as a political triumph.

The latest is news the Ontario Medical Association reached a deal with the provincial government this week on behalf of 25,000 doctors.

Here’s the shocker: there was some give and take. This wasn’t supposed to be possible in this new austerity landscape.

The government took two years of zeros. The docs got the government to reverse some of the unilateral fee cuts from earlier this year.

Don’t we all feel better now?

If there is a bit of a “huh?” to this agreement, it’s the idea that physician services will be capped at $11.1 billion while $100 million more will be made available over the next two years primarily to pay for new docs coming into the system. On a $47 billion health budget, this will hardly be earth shattering.

It’s basically a freeze with fee increases and new funding during a funding cap.

The reality is the government anticipates saving money by getting the docs to stop doing things that have little evidence to support their effectiveness. The docs had to be persuaded to do this?

Oh, and that annual physical? If you are healthy, it may be a thing of the past too.

The new agreement brings the doctors at least into the late 20th century with e-consultations, expansion of telemedicine and “more virtual connections between the GPs and specialists.” Perhaps a photo opportunity is in order with a doctor and the Minister posing in front of an e-mail?

With the Minister of Health intent on expanding hours of access, it was no surprise to see after hours premiums restored. Previously the Ministry had inexplicably insisted on a 10 per cent cut in such premiums.

There was a time when labour disruptions averaged more than 10 days lost for every person working in Canada. Last year that number was closer to one.

This suggests that all the bluster about the necessity to take away labour rights has little basis in reality. The OMA deal shows bargaining works. Maybe we can remember that as the next group comes to the table.

One response to “OMA Deal: Surprise! Bargaining works

  1. Technically if the news reports are correct it goes beyond a wage freeze when the Docs. across the board are taking a 0.5 cut. Then from a patients point of view what have they received from the bargaining table? One example is, how can our time strapped Doctors take on the extra burden of making house calls? Then I also have concerns with the cut back on some lab tests and colonoscopies, and even as you mentioned in your article, yearly check-ups. Are we putting preventative medicine by the wayside here?

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