**Please note that the original journal entry from August 14 has been modified to reflect the vote result from August 15.
“Abdication, Distraction, and Deflection.”
Ontario’s doctors voted NO to the tentative Physician Services Agreement between the Ontario Medical Association and the Wynne government that would have doctors co-manage the Province’s ailing health care system. The results of the vote from August 14 were shared the following day. Of voting OMA members, 63.1% voted Against the Agreement, 36.9% voting For the Agreement. The rejection is indicative of the negative view of Wynne’s overall approach to healthcare in the Province – one of abdication and deflection.
Given that Ontario is at a pivot point in health care that will affect patients, physicians, and the province for many years to come, the vote result will be important. Simply stated: it is a bad deal, indicative of Wynne’s overall
The Wynne government has demonstrated its abdication of responsibility to patients by limiting the physician services budget for patient care below what can conceivably meet patient demand. Instead of dealing honestly with the surge in health care need due to our growing population, new advances in science and technology, and an aging population with all of its associated requirements the Ontario Liberals are using health care to balance their budget. They have used rationing of patient care to offset the burgeoning debt that they have created through mismanagement and wasteful spending.
The centrepiece of the Liberal government-OMA deal was Wynne’s design to use Ontario’s doctors as its collaborative rationing tool through co-management of the Physician Services Budget. This would have bureaucrats and doctors, together, deciding on the healthcare cuts to meet the government’s scheduled budget targets. Obviously, neither the OMA nor the Liberal government appear to have the interests of patients at heart. If they did, they would not be resorting to rationing under the guise of “co-management” and “collaboration”.
The Liberal government-OMA deal included components to address Relativity (the relative difference in the OHIP fee codes of some MD specialities compared to lower fee codes of other specialities). Although some physicians believed this was a positive attribute, it will require Ontario’s physicians to be internally focussed on slicing and dicing their profession – rather than spending time and resources on providing input into major structural issues that afflict health care delivery.
While the OMA is distracted with Relativity, the Wynne government master plan is to bring in more bureaucratic management in the form of Bill 210, The Patients First Act. Doctors kept busy with co-managing the rationing of care allows the government to move forward with minimal resistance to its major expansion of powers that allow it to unilaterally impose accountability agreements. Individual freedom for both patients and providers is at risk with this legislation.
The Ontario Liberals are intent on deflecting blame for costs of their own debt and waste onto the Province’s health care system and its providers. It is harder and harder to provide publicly funded patient services when the government is spending approximately one billion dollars a month on servicing the massive debt it created over the past decade through waste and mismanagement. Consider what can be paid for with a billion dollars per month: the medical staff, operations and procedures, the equipment. With the deal and physicians given a co-management role, the Wynne government has found a deceptive way to deflect public criticism from government decision-making.
As a disturbing aside, thousands of physicians who oppose the government’s current rationing plan are not “dissidents” as some government spokespersons and media have referred to them. By branding physicians who perceive solutions differently from the government as non-collaborative the government is attempting to quiet dissenting voices and deflect attention from its own failed policies. It’s a ruse. Differing perspectives could be used to create a more respectful and compassionate plan for health care transformation. It is often at the interface of opposing views that the best solutions will be found. It would be wise for our political and association leaders to do more listening and less deflecting.
The Liberal government’s approach has created a dysfunctional healthcare system
The Wynne Liberal government’s deal with the OMA suggests this government is clueless on how to proceed with its healthcare challenges. Constraining the freedom of physicians in a command and control system where they cannot meet patient demand and then labelling this as being in the “public interest” is disingenuous at best.
This is not the way to create a leaner and more efficient health care system or a way to meet the growing demand for patient care. Instead of squeezing the breath out of our public health care system, as our population grows and ages Kathleen Wynne should be answering the question “How can we provide more care to more people?” If we want innovation and “modernization” of care, it will not be found in rationing or managing wait lists. More management and more bureaucracy are not what we need.
As this deal so clearly illustrated, Wynne’s healthcare legacy is an abdication of duty, deflection of responsibility and distraction from her government’s wasteful ways. Hardly inspiring. Hardly a vision. Ontario can do better – it must do better. The vision of health care in the future cannot be about rationing care, denying care, and limiting the freedoms of providers and patients. It must be about empowering patients and empowering providers including Ontario’s physicians in providing more services and more care, not less.
The rejection of the deal was the ethical and appropriate response to a poorly considered health care rationing master plan pushed by the Wynne Liberals. Ontario doctors have spoken with resounding support for patients. However, any celebration of the rejection of this deal should be dampened by the reality that there is much work ahead to be done to shore up Ontario’s hobbling healthcare system. Let’s start with the resignation of Dr. Eric Hoskins.