Doc­tors don’t need more chaos dur­ing th­ese un­cer­tain times

Toronto Star - - INSIGHT - ADAM KAS­SAM Adam Kas­sam is a se­nior physi­cian res­i­dent at the Schulich School of Medicine and Den­tistry.

Con­tro­versy seems to fol­low the On­tario Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (OMA). Af­ter a pe­riod of tran­si­tion, in­clud­ing the res­ig­na­tion of an un­pop­u­lar board of di­rec­tors and the in­stal­la­tion of a raft of fresh new voices, the or­ga­ni­za­tion is now faced with an­other ex­is­ten­tial mo­ment that may per­ma­nently al­ter its fu­ture.

An open let­ter was sent to mem­bers in­form­ing them that a group of doc­tors are cre­at­ing a par­al­lel or­ga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­ests of spe­cial­ist physi­cians. This de­ci­sion was borne out of their frus­tra­tion with the OMA and its ne­go­ti­a­tion po­si­tion on rel­a­tiv­ity — the con­cept of cre­at­ing pay eq­uity among doc­tors.

It also builds on the long-stand­ing crit­i­cism of the manda­tory dues physi­cians must pay the OMA for rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Many have re­sented this im­posed struc­ture be­cause they be­lieve the OMA has done lit­tle to ad­vo­cate on their be­half. This new move­ment is be­ing spear­headed by Dr. David Ja­cobs, an out­spo­ken ra­di­ol­o­gist who hopes to em­u­late the Que­bec model where in­de­pen­dent provin­cial bod­ies rep­re­sent spe­cial­ists and fam­ily doc­tors. Th­ese en­ti­ties cur­rently ne­go­ti­ate sep­a­rately with the prov­ince on a range of is­sues, in­clud­ing re­mu­ner­a­tion.

It’s not un­rea­son­able for On­tario physi­cians to want the free­dom to choose their own rep­re­sen­ta­tion. In fact, a mono­lithic or­ga­ni­za­tion like the OMA is lim­ited in be­ing able to prop­erly ad­vo­cate for all the dif­fer­ent doc­tors un­der its large um­brella. The vast ma­jor­ity of doc- tors rep­re­sented by the OMA are fam­ily physi­cians, while mi­nor­ity spe­cial­ity groups — l i ke psy­chi­a­trists — of­ten strug­gle to be heard. A new in­sti­tu­tion aimed at ad­vo­cat­ing for th­ese smaller groups may not be a bad idea.

How­ever, there is also no guar­an­tee that this untested coali­tion — likely op­er­at­ing un­der a sim­i­lar manda­tory dues frame­work — will be any dif­fer­ent. Larger and bet­ter re­sourced spe­cial­i­ties like car­di­ol­ogy, oph­thal­mol­ogy and ra­di­ol­ogy will con­tinue to dic­tate pri­or­i­ties, re­sult­ing in the same in­equity that cur­rently ex­ists. It is also well known that physi­cians in the Que­bec model have suf­fered from a di­vide-and-con­quer strat­egy used by the gov­ern­ment to neu­tral­ize their would-be col­lec­tive lever­age.

The mo­ti­va­tion of this pro­posal is also cu­ri­ous given that it comes at a crit­i­cal junc­ture in ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the OMA and the prov­ince. De­spite the Ford gov­ern­ment’s elec­tion prom­ise to work with doc­tors, it has taken the same pos­ture as pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions, re­sult­ing in an im­passe and set­ting the stage for an un­prece­dented ar­bi­tra­tion in the com­ing months.

With the swirling un­cer­tainty ahead, this ill-timed ini­tia­tive has the po­ten­tial to de­rail a process that is years in the mak­ing.

At a time when the pro­fes­sion is deal­ing with grow­ing burnout, doc­tors need to fo­cus on heal­ing them­selves and their pa­tients. We need a united OMA to end the fiveyear long strug­gle with­out a con­tract. More chaos is not the an­swer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.