In the last two or three months, I have gotten fed up with waiting for “something to happen” in the Cold War between the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care in Ontario. I know perfectly well that this is a marathon and not a sprint, but in endurance challenges of any kind it is usual to check your position and “test the endurance” of other players and so I, personally, have begun to do this.
One of my actions was to develop three motions for the Emerging Issues debate at last month’s Canadian Medical Association General Council in Halifax. These were the motions:
- The Canadian Medical Association insists that provincial/territorial governments should fund all necessary health care.
- The Canadian Medical Association stands against governments undertaking unilateral action in lieu of a negotiated agreement with physicians.
- The Canadian Medical Association supports the Ontario Medical Association’s request for the inclusion of a binding dispute resolution mechanism in its contract negotiations with the Government of Ontario.
Here is a link to the CMA coverage of the motions.
These motions had very strong support and I tweeted out the news which caused several to ask: What difference does this make? What can CMA do?
It’s fair to ask this question but the answer takes more than 140 characters to answer.
The first difference it makes is that these motions establish a national policy at the Canadian Medical Association that provincial and territorial governments should fund all necessary growth in health care and not pass off their responsibility under the Canada Health Act. I have written about this previously several months ago: https://drgailbeck.com/2015/04/19/getting-blood-from-a-stone/ Governments are now being asked to fund pharmacare and psychotherapy at a time when they are already not meeting their responsibilities for funding hospitals and physicians. This first motion establishes the policy for our national association that governments should meet their existing responsibilities.
The second motion means that the Canadian Medical Association will stand against any government abandoning negotiated agreements with physicians in favour of unilateral action. We are in difficulty because of such action in Ontario, but our Quebec colleagues are facing an even worse fate from their physician health minister. http://www.assnat.qc.ca/en/travaux-parlementaires/projets-loi/projet-loi-20-41-1.html
In addition, since most jurisdictions and physician bargaining units in Canada already have access to a binding dispute resolution mechanism, the final motion confirms the need for Ontario doctors to have this as well.
As well as setting CMA policy, these motions did also provide an opportunity to highlight Ontario’s doctors’ situation and Dr. Toth, OMA President, had a number of media calls in response to the motions.
These are small pieces of work, to be sure, but in working on these motions, I was doing something. To use the marathon analogy, I tested the field and the interest and have finally had some people get in touch with me about the OMA’s situation and the impact the cuts are having. Maybe if I keep pushing, a few others will also begin to push and maybe we’ll start to build some momentum. I am not the only person pushing. In fact, most members of the OMA Board and a few others as well are using every means at their disposal to bring attention to the impact of the government’s cuts on healthcare. The OMA itself continues with a media campaign that also seems to be going unnoticed, but it is there. These days, it feels as though we are a very small group, unable to garner much attention, but we are committed and all of us believe that change is possible.
I am doing what I can in other ways also. I am going to continue to meet with doctors, meet with MPP’s, bring motions and write about these cuts. Maybe it is all useless, but I will continue with these actions until enough people begin to notice. I welcome anyone who wants to help. Leave me a message here and I’ll get in touch.
Is anyone out there?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead