Optimism after OMA, health minister meet
Ontario doctors have not agreed to return to the bargaining table with the Liberal government, but both sides are expressing optimism for the first time in weeks.
Health Minister Deb Matthews says she had a very positive meeting Wednesday with Dr. Doug Weir, president of the Ontario Medical Association.
Matthews says they agreed to have their officials meet to hammer out exactly what they want to talk about at the bargaining table before the OMA will agree to resume negotiations.
Weir described his meeting with Matthews as positive, and says there was enough movement to justify another meeting.
The OMA, which represents 25,000 physicians, walked away from contract talks after the government imposed $338 million in fee cuts.
The cash-strapped government wants a two-year wage freeze for more than one million public sector workers, including doctors.
The OMA says the wage freeze actually amounts to a pay cut because the same amount of funding will be used to pay a growing number of doctors.
The province provides $11 billion a year for doctors' compensation, which Matthews says makes Ontario physicians the highest paid in Canada, something the OMA disputes.
The OMA also warns the unilateral fee cuts will make patients wait longer for some services and drive physicians out of Ontario.