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News Release

Medical Group Urges End to Opting-Out

25 May, 1980

Binding arbitration could be a definite possibility in fee negotiated with the government, a physician's group stated Saturday. The group calls for bargaining in good faith between doctors and the government in accordance with generally accepted labour practices, recognizing that "the process may end in binding arbitration." They hoped, however, that this would not be necessary.

The Medical Reform Group of Ontario made the statement Saturday within a series of resolutions accepted by the general membership at a meeting in Toronto. The Medical Reform Group is an organization of almost two hundred physicians and medical students formed in the last year to express their concerns about the future of health care in Ontario and Canada.

The MRG believes the existence of a separate Ontario Medical Association fee schedule and government acceptance of opting out renders the present bargaining process for a fee schedule between the Ontario Ministry of Health and physicians ineffectual. A separate higher OMA schedule of fees has existed since 1978. Patients receiving services from opted out physicians employing this schedule today recover about 70% of the fee from OHIP. The group believes this higher schedule should not be allowed.

They resolved that public health care funds should be used only to pay opted in physicians. They believe physicians who wish to remain opted out should not be able to obtain partial payment of their fees from OHIP, nor should their patients be allowed to do so.

The resolutions passed also called for changes in methods of health care delivery. The MRG supported community health centres as a major method of primary care delivery and believes they should be focussed on health promotion. The control of the funds and programmes should be local -- in the hands of the centre users and staff.

The MRG called for significantly increased government support for experimental programmes in which physicians would be on salary or funded by capitation, i.e., according to the number of patients on their roster. It asks for a public process of evaluation of the acceptability and benefits demonstrated in the experiment.

The resolutions passed by the group expressed social concern in a number of other areas. Citing the continuing problems of accidents and loss of life in the workplace and the existence of occupational diseases related to substances like asbestos the MRG "supports the fundamental right of every worker to a safe and healthy work environment." It also recognized that "the right to refuse work without penalty is the ultimate protection of a worker or a group of workers against exposure to hazards they reasonably believe exist in their workplace."

Considerable concern over the adequacy of health services for women was expressed in the resolutions. The group resolved that abortion should "be removed from the criminal code and be recognized as a matter of a woman's personal conscience." It also asks for non-hospital, easily accessible clinics for first trimester abortions.

In addition the group calls for "free and universal day-care" in order that women might fully participate in the social, political and economic life of society.

The MRG calls upon the Canadian Medical Association to take a public stand against the involvement of physicians in torture. The group "opposes any participation by physicians in the administrate of the death penalty."

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