Important News and Updates
Important News and Updates
August 8, 2018

New: OMA Position on CMA’s Changed Direction 
Update: Public Disclosure of Physician Billing 
Update: Charter Challenge 
Update: Indigenous Health Tour 
Reminder: OMA Physician Leadership Program


Dear Colleagues, 

This is a hefty update with a lot of important information. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy...

New: OMA Position on CMA’s Changed Direction

The Canadian Medical Association has proposed a massive shift in organizational direction, effectively abandoning its role as the official voice of physicians on federal issues affecting doctors across Canada.
 
This change in direction, including the recent sale of MD Management and proposed CMA By-Law changes, have left many physicians concerned. These issues will be front and centre at the CMA General Council meeting in Winnipeg later this month.
 
Knowing this, the OMA Board met to review the OMA’s response. We feel that more consultation with physicians is needed before we can support the proposed CMA By-Law amendments. As a result, the OMA will oppose these changes. We will recommend that they be deferred for another year to allow for proper consultation and a well thought out transition plan.  

After much discussion, the Board also decided that the OMA will stop collecting CMA Dues, starting this year.
 
We’ve shared the OMA’s position with the CMA leadership. We will communicate with other medical associations to look at ways for us to continue to work collaboratively. We want to ensure that physician debate, policy development, and advocacy work continues at the national level as the CMA moves forward with its 2020 strategic plan.
 
New: Public Disclosure of Physician Billing

On Friday August 3, the Ontario Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in favour of the Toronto Star’s request to publish the names of the top 100 physician billers from 2012. Look here for details of the court decision (available here) and the OMA’s response (available here). 

I am disappointed. Not only is such a list inaccurate and outdated, it is not generalizable to all doctors. It does not provide information to support health system planning and management.

Ontario’s Sunshine List publishes the salaries of public sector employees (less their benefits and pensions). Salaried physicians are already on that list. Three other provinces publish gross physician billings: BC, Manitoba and New Brunswick. The remaining provinces and territories do not. Opinion on the utility of publishing this list is divided.

For the past four years, OMA lawyers, Ms. Gold and Mr. Colangelo, as well as third-party lawyers, Mr. Dockrill and Ms. Galessiere, have fought this in the courts.

The OMA Board has 60 days to decide next steps. During that time, the names of the top billers are kept private. We will do our due diligence, weighing member opinion, the possibility of a Supreme Court appeal, and all other factors before making a decision at our upcoming Board Meeting.
 
Update: Charter Challenge

The OMA Legal Team has prepared a comprehensive update on the status of our Charter Challenge. The Challenge is currently before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The update highlights two recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions relevant to our challenge, the litigation process and strategy to date, as well as next steps. The update is available here.

 

Update: Indigenous Health Tour

Last week, I sat with Indigenous Chiefs and Councillors as well as local health care providers in Northern Ontario. This tour was offered by Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. It was eye-opening and informative.
 
Day 1, Sioux Lookout’s Meno Ya Win Health Centre

It’s remarkable how First Nations beliefs were built right into the brick and mortar of this hospital — the Obstetrics wing faced the East, because east is life-giving; the Palliative wing faced the North, because north represents the end of a life-cycle. The hospital featured the Chief Sakatcheway Aandaaw’iwewgamik Healing Room, offering traditional healing as an option for care. The CEO and senior team as well as local physicians spoke of the vastly different reality and health needs in these remote communities.


 
Day 2, Keewaywin and North Caribou Lake First Nations reserves 

Keewaywin is a relatively young reserve with a population of about 300. It’s a fly-in, fly-out community with no road access to the rest of Ontario — other than the winter ice roads. The Band Council in Keewaywin openly shared the challenges they faced accessing basic necessities — safe housing, reliable power and clean drinking water. They also spoke of how difficult it was to access health care, particularly the discrepancy in the quality of care received.
 


Unlike Keewaywin, North Caribou is a more established and growing community of over 1300. As of last year, they also got permanent road access to Sioux Lookout and beyond. It’s helped them grow their health services, including their Suboxone program for opioid addiction and the Choose Life program for youth suicide prevention. The strength of these programs lies in the peer-to-peer support that community members provide one another.
 
I dined with the Executive Director of the Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority. He described how the First Nations used to live on the land, and how much the political and cultural landscape has shifted. A lot of this ties into the health issues affecting First Nations as well as an understandable desire for community control over health services.

Reminder: OMA Physician Leadership Program

Now more than ever, members are seeking ways to make changes in their practices, communities and the larger health system. The new OMA Physician Leadership Program is your chance to explore leadership training opportunities. It is open for those early in their careers as well as those further along. The application deadline is fast-approaching: August 17. To learn more click here.



Warmest regards,


Nadia Alam, OMA President