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Port Stanley News RSS Feed  Regional Transparency & Dues at Heart of Troubles

Regional

Concerned Ontario Doctors
Transparency amp Dues at Heart of Troubles

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 surveys.

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 reviewed.

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 implementing it.

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 the OMA.

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.


Last Updated: Saturday, 08 July 2017 07:07:21 AM EST

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