Chairs of OMA's Two Largest Districts Resign Citing an Increasingly Toxic Environment
Toronto, ON (July 4, 2017) - Below is a message from Dr. Kulvinder Gill (former
Chair of OMA District 5) and Dr. Mark D'Souza (former Chair of OMA District 11).
Video in link
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
A few years ago, we both became involved in medical politics to advocate for quality
care for our patients in the face of growing healthcare cuts. It dawned on many
physicians that poor representation by the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) enabled
the provincial government's systematic dismantling of our healthcare system.
In March of this year, we were both elected as chairs of the two largest OMA districts,
representing nearly 20,000 physicians in District 5 (GTA, Dufferin, Muskoka, Simcoe)
and District 11 (Toronto). We had hoped to make the OMA into a member-driven organization
that was transparent and accountable to frontline physicians.
Instead, the OMA's increasingly toxic environment has driven us to submit our resignations
The OMA is a 137-year-old bureaucracy with an administrative staff of over 300.
It is accountable to no one and is a tool for the Ontario Liberal government, which
ensures the organization's survival through mandatory, legislated membership dues
of nearly $70 million annually.
In recent months, the OMA was essentially passive in its resistance to three government
bills that adversely impact patient care – 41, 84, and 87 – while we have been vocal
advocates, trying to be the voice of our members who truly feel oppressed. Bill
41 has led to the loss of patient privacy, wasteful expansion of healthcare bureaucracy
at the expense of frontline care, and provincial medical standards being determined
by government bureaucrats, instead of medical experts. Bill 84 has led to the loss
of physicians' conscience rights and Bill 87 to the loss of physicians' rights to
privacy, presumption of innocence and natural justice and due process, through regulatory
There is enormous pressure within the OMA to toe the party line. Those who speak
out, particularly when citing their elected titles, are targeted by OMA leadership
and staff who maintain a "don't rock the boat" mentality.
Until this year, individual OMA chairs controlled communications to their respective
districts, yet our messages that often expressed opinions counter to OMA central
were blocked. Meanwhile a message from a loyal OMA official bypassed our authority
and was distributed to our constituents with full use of their elected title. The
OMA has since encouraged a formal communications policy that would apply only to
us. Despite our elected legitimacy, we would essentially be muzzled. The OMA continues
to make up rules as it goes along.
Our efforts for organizational reform and independent thinking have been met with
attempts at bullying and intimidation against us and other physicians from OMA leadership
and staff. A board member, and others within the OMA, submitted formal complaints
against more than 40 doctors to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario,
the regulatory body of doctors, for investigation.
These complaints may take years to process, and threaten the ability of dissenting
doctors to practise medicine. Why pretend to be for freedom of speech while simultaneously
fostering an atmosphere of intimidation and fear?
Despite our hope for organizational renewal, we believe institutional inertia has
prevented meaningful change within the OMA. The OMA is like a chameleon, changing
its colours. Double standards are applied liberally. Even some new members of the
OMA board and executive are either part of the perpetuation of bullying tactics,
or have turned a blind eye to them.
The OMA continues to exist to serve itself first. We feel we can no longer meaningfully
advocate for physicians and patients within an organization so committed to suppressing
dissent. Hence our resignations. Daring to voice different opinions from the OMA
makes you a square peg in a round hole. Until that changes, the OMA will be unable
to win the respect and unity of Ontario's physicians.
We will continue to advocate for our colleagues and patients through our grassroots
efforts. We implore the OMA to take a hard look in the mirror, and call for a fully
independent, forensic review of the organization.
Background: Concerned Ontario Doctors is a grassroots not-for-profit organization
of physicians across Ontario advocating for a patient-centered, sustainable, accessible
and quality healthcare system. We stand united in our belief that unilateral actions
by any government will undermine our ability to deliver timely and quality patient
care. More information can be found at www.CareNotCuts.ca,
Twitter: @OnCall4ON, Storify:
OnCall4ON, Instagram: OnCall4ON, and Facebook:
We Are Your Ontario Doctors.