Province, doctors to resume negotiations
TORONTO — Negotiations will soon restart for Ontario’s doctors, who have been without a physician services agreement for three years, with interest arbitration as the first order of business.
Amid a lengthy and messy dispute, the Ontario Medical Association had said doctors wouldn’t return to the table unless the government introduced binding arbitration, but the province said while it would be willing to discuss it, the government wouldn’t accept it as a pre-condition to negotiations.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said in a statement Thursday that the government is committed to that principle and it will be the first thing on the table when talks resume.
“The (health) minister and I have discussed the next steps and, as a show of good faith, and to demonstrate our sincere commitment to trying to reach a positive outcome in these renewed negotiations, our government will not make any unilateral adjustments to physician compensation or accountabilities while discussions are taking place,” Wynne wrote.
The Liberal government angered doctors in 2015 by imposing fee cuts for some services, and had previously threatened to act on its own again if it couldn’t reach an agreement with the OMA.
Doctors roundly voted down a proposal last summer that would have increased the approximately $12-billion physician services budget by more than $1 billion but set out $200 million in certain fees.