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Port Stanley News RSS Feed  Regional OMA Physician Leaders Are Employees Of Wynne's Healthcare Bureaucracy


Concerned Ontario Doctors
OMA Physician Leaders Are Employees Of Wynne's Healthcare Bureaucracy

Toronto, ON, March 8, 2018 - As Ontario's physicians soon enter their fifth year without a contract with the Ontario Liberal government, healthcare provision in the province remains a grossly underfunded and disorganized disaster. The surge of influenza cases has shut down hospital wards and overwhelmed emergency departments across Ontario. Some hospitals in the GTA have cancelled elective surgeries due to the shortage of beds available for post-operative patients. Years of billions of dollars in unilateral cuts to frontline patient care have left nearly one million Ontarians without a family doctor and some specialist wait times exploding to over three years. Ontario's healthcare is in crisis.

And yet, Wynne's government continues to funnel millions of dollars towards the creation of more complex layers of bureaucracy: 84 new regional Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) have been created under the already inefficient and wasteful 14 LHIN system. Despite recent Auditor General reports criticizing the LHINs as an ineffective and expensive drain on the healthcare system, the Ontario Liberal government continues to divert funds away from essential frontline care.

Despite a petition signed by nearly 25,000 patients and strong opposition from frontline physicians and healthcare providers, Bill 41, deceptively named the Patients First Act, was passed by Wynne's government without any significant amendments in December 2016. This bill has ballooned healthcare bureaucracy, infringed on patient privacy, stripped physicians of their autonomy and has allowed government bureaucrats to dictate provincial medical standards instead of medical experts. After pressure exerted by Concerned Ontario Doctors and the OMA Family Medicine Section, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) council had passed several motions in November 2016 instructing Ontario's physicians to not participate in or support any of the disastrous LHIN initiatives, until physicians had a contract that valued and respected their patients and profession.

The effectiveness of the physician leadership crumbled as physicians who held elected OMA positions of influence eagerly signed on for lucrative LHIN-salaried positions in 2017 – they began enacting the very measures grassroots physicians were fighting against.

In November 2016, Dr. David Schieck (as Chair of the OMA Family Medicine Section) spoke against Bill 41 to the Queen's Park Standing Committee citing its negative impact on patient care. A year later, while still on the OMA Family Medicine Executive, Dr. Schieck accepted a salaried position from the government as Clinical Lead of the Guelph-Puslinch sub-LHIN. Similarly, Dr. Alykhan Abdulla, an elected member of the OMA Family Medicine Executive, has been a LHIN employee during his entire time as Chair of OMA's Audit Committee since 2014; he was promoted by the government to Clinical Lead of the Ottawa-Champlain sub-LHIN in December 2017. Dr. Lee Donohue, a current OMA Board Director and a former Chair of the OMA Family Medicine Section, was recently appointed Clinical Lead of the Eastern Ottawa sub-LHIN. In 2017, Dr. Cathy Faulds, who was on the OMA Negotiations Committee and had promoted the disgraced and failed physician services agreement in the summer of 2016, was appointed by Wynne's government as the Chief Clinical Lead of the South West LHIN.

Other such examples are vast amongst the OMA leadership, from its committees and council to its section executives and board. It is no surprise that in 2016, motions that would have made it mandatory for council members to declare all potential conflicts of interest, were called out of order by the OMA. Even a re-submitted motion for such potential declarations to be made voluntarily by council members at the time of election was called out of order.

The clear conflicts of interest amongst elected OMA officials acting against the interests of its membership and against passed council motions have created further divisions amongst rank and file physicians. Recently, with OMA elections looming and despite physicians still having no contract, the OMA Board unilaterally overturned passed council motions and removed the "line in the sand". The "new" OMA revealed its true colours and ensured their chosen candidates could still run despite having already turned against the interests of patients and physicians.

A memo, unsigned by leadership, was feverishly emailed out to all Ontario physicians on the Friday before the Family Day long weekend; it revealed that the OMA Board, without council approval, had struck down the moratorium of physician engagement with the LHINs. They cited reasons including the advancement of negotiations with the government. The fact is, there has been no advancement. Doctors are locked into a process of binding arbitration because Wynne's government has failed to meet physicians' demands for increased funding to support Ontario's growing and aging patient population. With a provincial election mere months away, the issue of healthcare cannot be advocated for by the OMA because it has now issued a de-facto seal of approval on the disastrous Bill 41 by lifting the embargo of physician engagement to enact it.

Never before has the Ontario government treated the province's doctors and patients with such malice and active neglect. Ontario physicians are forced to pay the OMA $54 Million annually in mandatory government-legislated membership dues – making the organization nothing more than a defacto branch of the government. Forced dues have disarmed the OMA from advocating for physicians and patients in any effective and organized manner during this election period.

The OMA has one legal mandate – to be the official negotiating body for Ontario's physicians. Something it has failed to do in the past five years despite taking in more than $250 Million from physicians during this timeframe. OMA has failed to represent the interests of frontline physicians while many within positions of power have utilized the organization as a personal means to an end. The OMA soon plans to implement a Code of Conduct Policy to strip Ontario's physicians of their freedom of speech – preventing frontline physicians from speaking out and advocating on behalf of their profession and patients.

Political opposition leaders and MPPs must call for a fully independent forensic review of the OMA. Since government passed legislation making the OMA a mandatory physician organization in 1991, there continues to be a profound lack of financial transparency in the hundred of millions in dues collected over the past several years. Measures for full financial transparency have been blocked by the OMA. Conflicts of interest continue to be rife throughout all layers of the OMA, from its staff and committees to its council and board. To understand its inner workings, look at the most outspoken defenders of the anemic OMA and their role in advancing the government's disastrous agenda. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and it is ultimately Ontario's patients who will continue to pay the price for our deteriorating healthcare system.

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

Last Updated: Thursday, 08 March 2018 08:11:48 AM EST

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