TORONTO – Optometrists in Ontario say they will start resuming eye exams for children and seniors on Tuesday.
The optometrists withdrew provincially insured eye services on Sept. 1 in a funding dispute with the province.
The Ontario Association of Optometrists said in a statement Monday that it had agreed to enter formal negotiations with the Ministry of Health.
It said “as a sign of good faith” it will pause its job action as of Tuesday.
“The OAO is committed to negotiating a sustainable funding model that aligns with how optometric care is funded in other Canadian jurisdictions,” it said in a statement.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is ready to reach a fair and timely agreement.
“I am pleased that the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) has agreed to join us in resuming direct face-to-face negotiations,” she said in a statement.
The optometrists say the province has been underfunding the OHIP-covered services, leaving them paying around 45 per cent out of pocket.
Elliott has said the government has committed to paying $39 million in retroactive costs and is prepared to increase reimbursement by 8.48 per cent going forward,
But the optometrists say that $39 million amounts to just over $1 for each optometry service performed in that retroactive period.
The proposed 8.48 per cent increase in reimbursement would only bring the covered cost up to $48, but eye exams are between $75 and $80, the optometrists say.