December 14, 2018
The formation of the Ontario Specialists Association is well under way. There has been a tremendous amount of good will as OSA specialists firmly endorse it as their legitimate representative to negotiate on their behalf. Other supportive specialists have contacted the OSA about joining.
This kind of success entails change, and we all know change brings uncertainty and concern. The OSA change is no different and many comments have been made since the successful referendum. While most comments are accurate, there have been some that have confused the purpose and position of the OSA. An example is the resistance to recognise that the OSA now represents ~20% of Ontario’s specialists after only 3 months since its inception.
Why was the OSA formed?
There continues to be serious governance problems at the OMA and an intractability to ensure appropriate and equitable represent minority interests. Despite several efforts, the expected changes have not materialised following the overwhelming rejection of the 2016 tPSA. These include the failure to ensure wide ranging OMA governance reform and the execution of an impartial forensic audit.
The OMA’s untested relativity model is widely recognised as being irretrievably flawed. Instead of quickly fixing a recognised problem it has instead created the conditions that have set section against section to the benefit of the MOH. The failure to manage this crisis has been worsened by a series of last-minute flip-flops. Efforts to find a better way like the proven American RVU approach have been rebuffed without material explanation.
The needs of family physicians and specialists have changed significantly such that no one organisation can reasonably meet their different interests and requirements. Medicine has evolved, but our provincial organisation has not kept pace. It was no surprise that an OSA would eventually emerge. Now that that has happened, it is important for both the OMA and the OSA to mutually respect the existence of each other, as we have pledged, in order to meet the quite different needs of our respective physician members.
What is the purpose of the OSA?
To create an organisation that has a transparent, accountable and ethical governance structure that fairly and equitably represents the unique needs of specialist physicians irrespective of their size and area of medicine, while advancing the health care needs of their patients.
To negotiate with the Ontario government in a results-oriented and commonly aligned manner that is premised on ensuring meaningful change and improvement for our patients while ensuring respect for Ontario specialists. To repair the damage that has occurred to specialists over the last decade in an environment of trust recognising that it will take time to accomplish what both sides seek.
To obtain separate representation now to ensure that the OSA is the sole representative for the 8-member specialties and who can conduct separate negotiations with government. This requires legislative change to the Representational Rights Act to obtain the above-noted requirement. We do not seek to interfere with the rights of the OMA to represent those physicians who have freely elected to remain with the OMA.
To end the application of mandatory OMA membership by abolishing the Randing of doctors who are members of the OSA via a legislative change in the Ontario Medical Association Dues Act. Other physicians who remain as OMA members can decide whether Randed or voluntary membership is best for them.
The OSA has written to both the Ontario Health Minister and the Arbitrator and specifically asked that the OSA’s involvement in the OMA binding arbitration process be paused until the legislative changes to the Rep Rights Act and the OMA Dues Act are amended in the Ontario legislature. We have not in any way abandoned BA rights for OSA members. Likewise, we have not sought to interfere with the OMA’s involvement in the current binding arbitration process as has been incorrectly suggested.
To negotiate a fair agreement with the Ontario government and to retain all of the other attributes and protections that have previously been negotiated for all doctors, including current and future OSA members. This includes binding arbitration rights as a cornerstone element to ensure fairness and equity between Ontario specialists and the Ontario government when needed.
OSA Receives Reply Letter From Ontario Health Minister
The OSA has received a response from the Health Minister this week recognising the emergence of the OSA and has committed to an early meeting to discuss our representation request and need for self-determination. The important building block work of the OSA Board continues.