Newspaper article The Canadian Press

OMA Takes Liberal Government to Court to Roll Back Fee Cuts for Doctors: OMA Takes Liberals to Court over Fee Cuts

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

OMA Takes Liberal Government to Court to Roll Back Fee Cuts for Doctors: OMA Takes Liberals to Court over Fee Cuts

Article excerpt

TORONTO - The fee dispute between the Liberals and the province's doctors was headed for court Tuesday after the Ontario Medical Association charged the government with bargaining in bad faith.

"They've put us in a position where we're left with no other options," said OMA president Dr. Doug Weir.

"It is deeply disappointing that the government has devalued the role of physicians to the point where we are forced to take such a drastic step."

The OMA walked away from the negotiating table last month after the province cut $340 million worth of physicians' fees, and said Tuesday it wants a conciliator appointed before talks can resume.

"What we need is some reassurances if we go back to the table things will be different," said Weir.

"The thing that will reassure us more than anything else is if they agree to a third party conciliator to make sure it is in fact a fair process where they are going to listen to us rather than impose their cuts on the profession."

Health Minister Deb Matthews said the government hasn't ruled out a conciliator, but added one isn't needed for the government and OMA to talk about the major changes needed in health care.

"Trust me, the issue is not a conciliator," Matthews told reporters.

"The issue is: is there more money to spend on physicians? The answer to that was and remains no. There is no more money for doctors."

Doctors made great gains during the Liberals first eight years in office, but strapped with a $15-billion deficit, the government needs physicians -- and all public sector workers -- to agree to a two-year wage freeze, said Matthews. The province provides $11 billion a year for doctors' compensation, about 10 cents of every dollar it spends.

"We have increased doctors' compensation by 85 per cent in eight years," said Matthews.

"What we're saying is that's all we can afford right now. …

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