TORONTO, OCTOBER 5, 2018
– The Government of Ontario and the OMA have had a communications protocol in place throughout the negotiation and mediation process of a Physician Services Agreement (PSA) in which both parties committed to not disclosing the positions taken in negotiations or at mediation.
Unfortunately, there has been a breach of that protocol from “a senior government official” that has resulted in some erroneous statements reported in the press. As a result, the OMA has an obligation to provide some context and correct the record.Timing of last OMA and Government offers
The last Government position was communicated to the OMA by the Government’s chief negotiations spokesperson and lead legal counsel yesterday, October 4th. That offer was identical to the previous offer made by the Government on September 5th and was submitted as its final offer. The Government has informed the OMA it is reverting to the position of the previous Government in arbitration.
For its part, the OMA’s last offer was made on September 5th, in response to the Government’s offer of that date.Unilateral Fee Reductions
The OMA has proposed that the Government return the approximately 6.7% that it unilaterally removed from physician fees in 2015. No other group in Ontario has ever suffered permanent compensation reductions. The OMA’s proposed repeal of these fee cuts would restore Ontario physicians to the fee levels in place in 2015.
The Government has not offered to repeal the imposed fee cuts but instead offered a one-time $715 million (or 6%) “signing bonus”. This would leave the 6.7% unilateral fee cuts permanently in place.Compensation Increases
After five previous years of frozen fees and the unilateral fee cuts, the OMA’s final mediation proposal was for fee increases of 2% a year for each of the four years of the agreement. This is the same as what the Ontario Government has negotiated with unions representing its own employees.
The only increases in physician fees the Government proposes are 1.2% in each of the third and fourth years of the PSA, for a total non-compounded increase over the four-year agreement of 2.4%.
Further, the Government proposes a further freeze on fees for the first two years (2017-2018 and 2018-19). This follows a previous five years of fee freezes from 2012 to 2017.
With regards to information provided by government sources to the Toronto Star, it should also be noted that:
Growth in Physician Expenditures
- At no time did the OMA propose annual increases of 6.8%.
- At no time did the Government propose a “5 per cent increase in the first year and 3.15 per cent annually in the next three years.”
- At no time did the previous Government offer 2.6% annual increase over four years. Rather, the net effect of the previous Government’s fee proposal was a further freeze in physician compensation for the four years 2017 to 2021. This would be on top of the previous five years of fee freezes from 2012 to 2017, not to mention the 2015 unilaterally imposed reduction in physician fees.
Under the terms of the Binding Arbitration Framework that the Government and OMA previously agreed to, the Government has already agreed, as is appropriate, that it is responsible for providing needed funding increases in expenditures on physician services based on population growth, an aging population, technological change, net growth in physicians, increased prevalence of new and chronic diseases, and other factors.
In its September 5th offer, the Government specifically accepted that it was responsible for annual growth in physician expenditures. In other words, it agreed with the OMA that physicians would not be penalized if expenditures for the services they provide to Ontarians exceeded a fixed amount.
At the same time, in both the Government and OMA September 5th proposals, the parties also reached agreement that they would work together to ensure the provision of appropriate physician services, as well as broader health care system gain-sharing initiatives. This was, however, conditional on the OMA and Government resolving their overall compensation differences.Relativity
Contrary to the report in the Toronto Star, the subject of relativity – an approach used to ensure fairness in compensation among medical specialists and family practitioners – was not included in either the Government or OMA proposals, including each side’s last offers. Rather, the parties had explicitly agreed that relativity issues would be resolved only after an agreement was reached on overall compensation adjustments.
About the OMA
The Ontario Medical Association is membership organization that represents the political, clinical and economic interests of doctors in Ontario. Our 34,000 members are practicing doctors, residents and medical students. For more information, please contact:
OMA Media Relations at 416.340.2862 or toll-free at 1.800.268.7215, ext. 2862