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Port Stanley News RSS Feed  Regional Ford Government Must Undertake a Forensic Review of the Ontario Medical Association

Regional

Concerned Ontario Doctors
Ford Government Must Undertake a Forensic Review of the Ontario Medical Association

July 11, 2018 (Toronto, ON) – "Hypocrisy is the audacity to preach integrity from a den of corruption." – Wes Fesler

To truly address Ontario's health-care crisis and ensure that patients receive access to quality and timely care, it is crucial to address the Ontario Medical Association's (OMA) profound lack of accountability and financial transparency to frontline physicians.

One year ago this week, we resigned as chairs of the two largest districts of the OMA, having represented approximately 20,000 physicians in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond, due to the OMA's toxic culture of bullying and intimidation, financial secrecy, silencing of dissent, and its collaborative relationship with the Wynne government against patient and frontline doctor interests.

Since then, the OMA has taken further steps to ensure the protection of its self-serving corporate interests. In November 2017, the OMA made sweeping, undemocratic bylaw changes without any membership consultation to consolidate power by removing open, transparent nominations for its board and open nomination and election for its committees. The OMA's bylaws now explicitly state that its board directors must always act in the best interest of the OMA corporation, not its mandatory members.

The OMA Board also had approved a draconian Code of Conduct Policy (COCP) to suppress physicians' freedom of speech with then OMA president Shawn Whatley and its board claiming it was "standard." No such far-reaching policy exists for any other medical association in Canada, and such a policy is beyond the OMA's legal mandate. Implementation of the OMA's COCP was delayed when Concerned Ontario Doctors launched a petition in January 2018 which garnered thousands of signatures from patients and frontline physicians.

In the OMA board report to council in April 2018, the OMA admitted its COCP's plan to investigate and discipline its own mandatory members would require "judicial review"; this is in stark contrast to its earlier claim of it being "standard." Instead, new OMA president Nadia Alam, who had helped create the original COCP, oversaw the approval of "OMA Principles Guiding Member Interaction" in May 2018 which gives the OMA authority to dictate not only what it deems to be "false" but also gives itself the authority to declare speech to be abusive if it "intentionally or unwittingly…humiliates, demoralizes or otherwise undermines the victim's credibility, effectiveness, and personal well-being," including any social media content directed towards an OMA "physician leader and/or containing any OMA-specific content."

The OMA claims the scope of its "principles" are to apply to physician-physician interactions and not to physician-patient interactions which are under the purview of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), doctors' regulatory body. However, physician-physician interactions are already under the legal mandate of the CPSO.

The OMA is taking extraordinary measures to suppress any criticism of its actions and public disclosure of its unethical conduct, as well as lack of full financial transparency.

What is most alarming is that OMA president Alam and its board have approved plans to develop a formal Code of Conduct Policy with an "investigation and enforcement procedure based on the principles document" to ultimately discipline its mandatory members under a veil of secrecy through its CEO office following a "fact-finding" review. With their unearned moral superiority, how does the OMA have the right to become judge and jury with a forced membership? How does the OMA, whose sole legal mandate is to be the negotiation body for Ontario's physicians, have the legal authority to not only dictate the truth and intention of doctors' words and actions, but subsequently investigate and discipline physicians?

The toxic relationship in health care existed between Kathleen Wynne's government and frontline physicians, never the bureaucratic OMA. The uproar for accountability and consultation in health care from Wynne's government and former health minister Eric Hoskins came from frontline physicians, never the OMA. It was frontline physicians that the Ontario Liberal MPPs and Hoskins refused to meet with, never the OMA. It was the frontline physicians that the Wynne government attacked and vilified, while the OMA remained silent.

The new Ontario PC government must hold the OMA to account. Minister Christine Elliott ran on a mandate of protecting free speech and Premier Doug Ford ran on restoring accountability and trust. For the sake of Ontario's patients and our health-care system, we urge the government to immediately undertake a fully independent forensic review of the OMA.

- Dr. Kulvinder Gill (@dockaurG) is a GTA physician, president and co-founder of COD and former chair of OMA District 5 (GTA, Dufferin, Muskoka, Simcoe.)

- Dr. Mark D'Souza (@DrMarkDS) is a Toronto physician, COD board director and former chair of OMA District 11 (Toronto).

More information can be found at www.CareNotCuts.ca, Twitter: @OnCall4ON, Storify: OnCall4ON, Instagram: OnCall4ON, and Facebook: We Are Your Ontario Doctors.


Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 July 2018 08:52:12 AM EST

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