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Press Release on the Threatened Physicians Strike from the Medical Reform Group of Ontario


The Medical Reform Group represents the views of Ontario physicians concerned about the challenges faced by Medicare in the 1980's. They wish to see universal access to free high quality health care preserved for all Ontario Residents.

PHYSICIANS GROUP OPPOSES THREATENED DOCTORS WALKOUT

The Medical Reform Group strongly oppose the Doctor's strike proposed by the Ontario Medical Association for next week, and call upon Ontario Physicians to ignore the walkout.

Although the O.M.A.'s dispute is with the government, fee for service practitioners have private contracts with their individual patients, that they will be reneging on. It is therefore inevitable that in the short term the public will suffer, and in the long term Medicare will be weakened.

At the moment the point of contention is physician remuneration, but the MRG sees present the crisis as reflecting much long standing and justified dissatisfaction that doctors have felt with many aspects of Ontario's Medicare system, and any attempt at a lasting settlement must address these wider issues. For example, the fee for service method of payment itself has been criticized frequently as providing little incentive for preventive health care, counselling, and health education.

Many of these ills could be remedied by government action and we would like to see them resolved through constructive discussions that involve the government, representatives of the medical community including the Medical Reform Group, and, where relevant, health consumers.

As part of a long term solution, the MRG suggests the following:

1) The current impasse should be resolved by negotiation and if an agreement cannot be reached, the dispute should be submitted to an independent arbitrator, accents to both parties, whose decision would be binding.

2) At that point, any physician dissatisfied with the final agreement would have the right to charge a higher fee, but in that case neither the physician nor their patient would be reimbursed for any part of that fee by O.H.I.P.

3) The O.M.A. and the government must conduct present and future negotiations in good faith, according to existing labour practise, with the obligations and responsibilities of each side being clearly defined. If the O.M.A. at some future date, does intend to use mass action as a bargaining tool, they should consider reconstituting themselves as a formal union with the ensuing benefits and responsibilities.

4) Part of the eventual settlement needs to include a full review of methods of physician payment. Other ideas such as capitation fees, salaries, and global budgeting have drawbacks, but need to be considered as alternatives or supplements to the existing system.

5) The M.R.G. world like to see the Medical Profession, and its representative bodies provide more of a lead in addressing the whole range of problems that Medicare faces, rather than directing all their energies towards one issue - in this case their own pay demands.

6) The MRG believes that any complaints regarding the conduct of individual physicians during the work action should be dealt with through the existing channels of the Royal College of Surgeons and Physicians and not by the Government

7) Any patient who feels they have a grievance during the work action should be encouraged to contact the Royal College directly.

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