An advocacy group which represents many of the province’s estimated 20,000 doctors says “gross mismanagement and negligence” under the current Kathleen Wynne Liberal government has seen billions of dollars cut to front-line care.
Concerned Ontario Doctors (COD) says the province has been cutting an average of $100 million since 2015, totalling close to $4 billion.
“They have chronically underfunded and cut our hospitals for 10 years,” COD president Dr. Kulvinder Gill told Global News Radio. “Physicians have had consecutive cuts for front-line patient care for seven years and we’ve been without a contract for physicians going into our fifth year, which is in Canada, unprecedented in its history.”
LISTEN: President Dr. Kulvinder Gill of advocacy group Concerned Ontario Doctors talks to Global News Radio 640 Toronto
Gill says the lack of funding has resulted in nursing layoffs, operating room and bed closures, as well as cuts to residency training positions, family medicine health teams, and even precipitated early retirement for several physicians.
“These cuts have been ongoing for the past seven years, but they escalated in a unilateral manner with no negotiation.”
Gill says recent announcements from the Wynne government pouring $822 million into hospital funding for 2018-19 are merely a Band-Aid, pointing to a Financial Accountability Officer (FAO) report in March which stated the government’s health-care funding is not keeping in pace with the demands of a growing and aging population.
640 Toronto medical expert Dr. Brett Belchetz concurs with the COD’s assessment of the province’s health-care system to date.
“If we look at Ontario, our population grows at 1 per cent per year, but our use of health care increases about 3 per cent per year,” says Belchetz.
“So the government is faced with a choice here, either keep costs under control with caps on how one uses the system, or let the physicians suck up all the growth and demand.”
LISTEN: Global News Radio 640 Toronto medical expert Dr. Brett Belchetz talks with John Oakley
Belchetz says there’s no easy fix and that the province and health-care workers have to take a step back and “see how is this done in other geographies.”
Ontario doctors have been without a fee agreement with the province since 2014, turning down the last offer in 2017 which would have seen a 2.5 per cent increase in the physician services budget from about $11.5 billion to 12.9 billion by 2020.
Both parties will sit down with a board of arbitration in May.