So, the Executive of the Ontario Medical Association has resigned...sort of. The Executive is resigning to sit on the Board of Directors and then will go through an electoral process. At least that is what we are told currently.
This follows after a 55% non-confidence vote in the OMA Executive at a special meeting of the OMA Council but at which other motions failed to win the required two thirds majority to pass. These other motions if they had been successful would have led to the resignations at the individual executive level.
In the face of the quasi-win by the groups challenging the OMA's representative performance, there had been murmurings of requiring the OMA to hold another General Meeting of Council to address the non-confidence vote which had initially been arrogantly passed off by the OMA as a demonstration of support. Another General Meeting of Council would have been disastrous for the OMA. It managed to avoid that through this resignation process.
However, the OMA should know that this result was not the end of this non-confidence wrangling. It is just the beginning.
The Ontario Liberal government should also understand that the advocacy efforts of front-line physicians are not going away. These physicians are not dissidents as they have been labelled by some reporters. They are simply aware that the Liberal government's cuts to front line health care and patient care in Ontario will cause more and more hardship for patients as time goes on. It's not the 1990s anymore.
Fact is that we are up against the demographic wall made even more challenging due to a sluggish economy affected by the shift in aging--a double whammy. Instead of cuts to care, government ought to be planning how to allow more care for more people. Cuts do the exact opposite of what is needed. Even if the deficit is eliminated for 2018, growing health care need will not be eliminated. The pent-up demand for care will be even greater after 2018 due to the current Liberal cuts.
Physicians are becoming more vocal. Despite government-created positions for paid "Physician Leaders" to push through the government's self-serving and short-sighted version of transformation, many physicians see the negative impact of government's efforts to balance its budget on the backs of patient services.
Physicians I know and have known care deeply about their patients. They see that health care access is becoming more and more difficult. They want to continue to provide much needed services but they may differ on how those services can best be provided. We should be able to differ on the "How" and value different perspectives and approaches and still be united in providing quality patient care.
We must ask the "What if" questions.
What if the government is not forthcoming with more and more funding for care to adequately serve citizens who are dependent on it?
What if government providing more funding leads to higher debt and greater interest payments resulting ultimately in fewer services?
Billions of dollars going to interest payments every month are one reason why Canada has fewer physicians and hospital beds per population than most developed countries and which results in lack of timely care, delayed diagnoses, and patient hardship--even death.
A couple years ago a fellow physician told me not to worry--all that was needed was a Liberal federal government and the money would flow. They were surprised to discover that the Trudeau Liberals are no health care saviours.
So what now?
I have no doubt that some of the former OMA Executive members will be re-elected to a new Executive. That will change nothing. Some new MDs may find themselves elected and in a position to create change from within the OMA but it is external factors beyond the OMA that have brought us to this point of upheaval. It is only by addressing external structural health care system issues BEYOND the OMA that substantive, sustainable change can occur.
I'm hoping that a new OMA Executive will understand that their most important role is not to align with the government transformation flavour of the day. Instead, it is to give critical input on how more care for more patients can be realistically achieved while supporting our human providers who deliver that very necessary care.
We need to be asking the hard questions.
As always, thank you for your continued insights and thoughtful comments.