Ontario Doctors Speak Out Against Human Rights Violations at the Hands of Wynne's
Toronto, ON (April 11, 2017) - Ontario doctors have now entered into their fourth
year without a contract - unprecedented in Canada. Since 2015, the Ontario Liberal
government has unilaterally cut over $2.5 Billion from the patient services physicians
provide leading to ever growing specialist wait times, OR closures, ER gridlocks
and one million patients in the province without a family doctor. To individual
Ontario physicians, the stark reality is they struggle to make ends meet with funding
that is 55% less than recommended by the OMA today. Furthermore, despite being an
essential service, this government has denied physicians the right to binding arbitration
and have instead created a toxic environment.
Now the Ontario Liberal government is set to strip physicians of fundamental human
rights with the anticipated passage of Bills 41 and 87 – an attack on physicians
never seen before in the democratic world. Collectively, Bills 84 and 87 violate
(see attached) six sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Sections
2, 7, 8, 11 12 and 15) and eight articles of the UN Declaration of Human Rights
(Articles 1, 2, 3, 7, 11, 12, 18 and 23). Yesterday, Concerned Ontario Doctors and
Doctors Ontario held a joint press conference at Queen's Park to speak out against
these serious human rights violations.
Bill 84, Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) legislation, violates physicians' conscience
rights protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It does not
have to be this way. Access is more consistent if physician referral is removed
from the equation. Every other jurisdiction in Canada and the world has managed
to strike a balance between conscience rights of doctors and rights of patients
to access a service: Ontario stands alone in denying physicians this human right.
Currently 70-80% of Ontarians are being denied timely access to palliative care.
How can Ontario ethically guarantee access to death within ten days while denying
patients timely access to mental health resources and palliative care?
In 2015, the CPSO changed its human rights policy, stating that doctors have to
refer to another provider for any service they are not willing to provide themselves.
This is known as an effective referral. For conscientious objectors, this amounts
to indirect participation. Every major religion, along with the Canadian, American,
and Ontario Medical Associations have all said it is unnecessary. Every other jurisdiction
in the world offering euthanasia has self-referral without impeding on conscience
rights, including all the other provinces. A direct tele-health initiative will
remove all barriers to patient access and will protect the conscience rights of
physicians. Ontario stands alone in insisting doctors participate in making an effective
referral if asked.
Beyond decreasing access to euthanasia, Bill 84 un-amended will effectively reduce
access to other medical services. It is hard to fathom how coercing ethical doctors
to quit practicing family medicine, palliative care, elderly care, or any other
field of medicine is going to serve the public good.
Bill 87, the Protecting Patients Act, will make the stigma of mental health worse.
78% of Ontario's doctors already report burnout; 86% citing the ongoing attacks
and vilification of this government as a cause while struggling to keep the healthcare
system afloat. Burnout very quickly leads down a road of depression, compassion
fatigue, substance abuse and suicide. Most physicians suffer in silence while attempting
to continue to provide care for their patients, until it becomes unbearable. Physician
suicide rates were already twice that of the general population, the toxicity of
this government's treatment of physicians has sadly made it worse.
Bill 87 will grant the Ministry of Health unprecedented access to the personal and
private health records of Ontario's doctors. This will create barriers for physicians
to open up about their own mental health challenges with their own family doctors.
Bill 87 goes further in violating the human right of the presumption of innocence
and physicians' right to procedural fairness and natural justice. Once Bill 87 passes,
CPSO will publish all patient complaints publicly on their website and have the
ability to both temporarily and permanently revoke a physicians' medical license
before a committee hearing ever occurs and before any evidence is ever presented.
The livelihood and public reputation of the physician, the physician's family, as
well as office staff can be forever tarnished without a hearing having ever occurred.
This is grossly unjust and violates several sections of the Canadian Charter.
Bill 87 has created so much fear amongst physicians that many have already started
to alter their practices and how they deliver patient care. Physicians are now being
advised to hire chaperones in their practices to be present for all clinic visits,
which most cannot afford to do. Doctors are fearful about putting themselves in
harms way without having due process protections in place against baseless patient
complaints. Many family doctors have stopped performing breast, prostate, pap and
pelvic examinations and are now instead ordering ultrasounds instead. If Bill 87
passes, more and more physicians will take such measures to protect themselves against
the violation of their Charter rights. This will lead to more fragmented care and
longer wait-times for specialists and diagnostics while increasing healthcare costs
in an already burdened system. And while Ontario doctors strongly support harsh
penalties for criminals, it is wrong to create a kangaroo court out of CPSO to address
the failings of our court system. It is wrong to punish and strip all 29,000 Ontario
physicians of their human rights and freedoms to address a serious problem seen
in less than 1% of college complaints.
"If the Wynne Government cannot respect and provide a humane and dignified working
relationship with Ontario's doctors, who is going to be left to care for the most
vulnerable? This represents perhaps the gravest and most unconscionable example
of this government's poor leadership and incompetency," stated Dr. Kulvinder Gill,
President of Concerned Ontario Doctors. "The fact that they are now violating physicians'
human rights is a line that Ontario's doctors will not allow to be crossed."
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.