Ontario docs are leaving – patients have trouble finding good doctors

{July 27, 2012}   McGuinty Promotes MD Fee-cutting

OMA fumes as McGuinty promotes MD fee-cutting at premiers’ meeting

Written by JERED STUFFCO on July 27, 2012 for the Medical Post

HALIFAX | As Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty sat down with provincial counterparts here this week, he appeared to be re-branding himself from “Premier Dad” to “Uncle Frugality.”

Especially when talk turns to health, as it always does during provincial summits.

While premiers look to compare notes and collaborate on what works and what doesn’t, McGuinty has hinted—in what was a veiled nod to his province’s fee-deal battle with doctors—that bringing down costs is essential.

“In Ontario, we are going a bit further, perhaps a little more quickly,” he said.

As Alberta looks toward a new fee deal with its physicians in an era of increasing frugality, reports from Nova Scotia suggest that McGuinty and his counterparts from the West will finally have some common ground.

In fact, a few months back, McGuinty wrote about his hard line in a note to provincial colleagues, who responded with messages of thanks.

Certainly, with McGuinty leading the way in cutting costs, other provinces will have an extra arrow in the quiver when it comes to their own doctor dealings.

Dr. Doug Weir

OMA President Dr. Doug Weir

But that isn’t the view shared by the Ontario Medical Association, which has been locked in a tough public relations battle over the physician fee cuts in Canada’s most populous province.

In fact, OMA president Dr. Doug Weir said McGuinty’s divide-and-conquer approach won’t fly with the other provinces.

“Governments across the country are working with their doctors. They’re working to improve health care, identify challenges, and put forward solutions,” Dr. Weir said in an email to the Medical Post on Friday.

“Rather than working collaboratively with us in Ontario, the McGuinty government has taken a different approach. They are working unilaterally and making dangerous cuts to services and programs that will affect patients and access to care.”

But with other provinces desperate to cut spending, McGuinty’s gambit could work nationally over the long-term.

Will doctors across the country get a raw deal if McGuinty can cut at will and squeak out a political victory?

Only time will tell.

For now, McGuinty says he’s making some converts out west.

In his own words, “Alberta is open to the experience that we are living through now.”




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