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News Release

Statement to the Toronto Board of Health

June 13, 1980

I am appearing on behalf of the Medical Reform Group of Ontario, an organization which now represents over 200 physicians and medical students.

I would like to thank the Board of Health for allowing me to present our views on the Board's recommendations regarding employment of opted-out physicians by the city of Toronto.

The Medical Reform Group is on record as opposing opting out as a solution to physician dissatisfaction with OHIP. We recognize the problems with the current system, but we feel it has been a step in the right direction, and opting out can only undo the progress that has been made toward a guarantee of high quality medical care for everyone. Health care delivery should not be a matter left in the control of doctors who establish themselves as private businesses and who provide for those who cannot afford the going rate at their own discretion. We believe that unrestricted access to necessary health care is a right, not a privilege to be granted by the largesse of physicians, however well intentioned some may be.

Therefore we cannot agree that a refusal by the city to employ opted-out physicians constitutes discrimination in the same sense as would refusal to employ physicians of a certain race, sex, or religion. Opting-out is a professional and economic decision which a physician freely makes. If the Board of Health, in its capacity as promoter of health for the citizens of Toronto, believes as we do that opting out is a threat to the health of those citizens, then we feel that it is entirely appropriate for the Board to act on this belief in whatever ways are open to it.

We are also in support of the Board's proposal to help citizens looking for opted-in physicians. As I am sure you are all aware, this search is becoming increasingly difficult in some specialties, though Toronto is so far luckier than some other areas in this respect.

I would like to conclude by assuring the Board that there are many physicians like myself who think that health care should not be looked upon as a commodity, like shoes, for which individuals should be expected to pay more in order to get the highest quality.

Dr. Debby Copes, Steering Committee, M.R.G.

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