Toronto, ON (July 7, 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).
On Tuesday, we resigned as chairs of the two largest Ontario Medical Association
(OMA) districts, having represented nearly 20,000 physicians in District 5 (GTA,
Dufferin, Muskoka, Simcoe) and District 11 (Toronto). The reason is there has not
been meaningful change at the Ontario Medical Association and it has taken drastic
measures to silence dissenting opinions.
Here are the critical structural changes we believe are needed to transform the
organization from one that is ideologically aligned with the Ontario government,
to one that will truly advocate for Ontario's doctors and patients.
The key reason the OMA is not accountable to its membership is its annual $70 million
in mandatory membership dues. It is the only medical association in Canada where
all doctors must pay in full and have no choice in who represents them. The government
legislated in 1991 that if doctors don't pay their dues, they will deduct the amount
from doctors' billings and give it to the OMA. The OMA will never bite the hand
that feeds it in this relationship.
Moreover, there is a profound lack of transparency on finances, and our efforts
to rectify this through motions at OMA council were blocked. The original intent
of the mandatory dues was only to support negotiations with the government, yet
it now funds a bloated bureaucracy. OMA officials can make a lot of money through
honorariums if appointed to multiple committees (there are nearly 100). The end
of mandatory dues was supported by two-thirds of Ontario physicians in two independent
Prominent OMA staff and board members have used the organization as launching pads
into government-funded organizations. We had put in motions at May's OMA council
meeting for the OMA to refund dues from physicians who ceased to be members, and
for OMA staff and officials to sign agreements to not work for the government for
a period of five years after leaving the OMA. The frequent adversarial nature of
relations between the government and doctors requires that there are no conflicts
of interest, specifically the promise of government jobs.
Both of our motions are supported by member surveys of doctors, but unlike previous
years, the two-day council meeting was filled with inordinately long committee reports
- essentially a filibuster. Time ran out, and council never heard our motions.
Administrative OMA staff are beholden to the corporation, not the elected physician
representatives. As such, their interests are often at odds with what is best for
physicians and health-care reform. The need for over 300 OMA staff must be independently
In the fall, the OMA announced plans to implement a code of conduct policy to allow
it to report members for investigation to the College of Physicians and Surgeons
of Ontario (CPSO), the doctors' regulatory body, which would threaten their ability
to see patients. The policy would not apply to OMA staff, board directors or executive.
The organization ignored our passed motion to survey membership on this policy before
A board member and others within the organization have already submitted formal
complaints against over 40 doctors to the CPSO. Freedom of speech being a cornerstone
of democracy, physicians have a wide array of opinions and deserve to be able to
voice them, without fear.
Even with new leadership, only significant structural change will allow for meaningful,
democratic reform at the OMA. It has a long way to go to achieve genuine transparency
and accountability. Transplanting its umbilical cord from the provincial government
to the medical profession would sharpen its ability to fight against future government
policies that prove ruinous to patient care.
Until then, we will continue to advocate for Ontario health care, independent from
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:
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We Are Your Ontario Doctors.