July 16, 2012
Number of millionaire Ont. doctors appalls minister
By Jonathan Jenkins and Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau
Ontario’s millionaire medics are overpaid, the province’s health minister said Monday.
“I was appalled when I saw how many were making in excess of $1 million,” Health Minister Deb Matthews said Monday of a list that in 2010, was 407 names long. “Some doctors are getting paid too much. We need to address the issue of relativity. Some doctors in some specialties are earning a fraction of what doctors in other specialties are earning.”
The Toronto Sun revealed last week through an access to information request Ontario’s top billing doctor in 2010 made a staggering $6.4 million and that five other physicians pulled in more than $3 million that year.
The list of 407 million-plus earners is dominated by cardiologists, radiologists and ophthalmologists.
Those are the specialties that have borne the brunt of Matthews’ unilateral fee cut earlier this year. Negotiations between the government and the Ontario Medical Association on a new contract are at a standstill, with the OMA heading to court with a constitutional complaint against the government’s demands.
“It’s very much part of what I’m doing to physician compensation, when I see numbers like that clustered around certain specialties,” Matthews said.
“What these specialties have in common is that they have benefitted tremendously from technology improvements.”
There are 101 radiologists that made seven figures in 2010, along with 77 ophthalmologists and 55 cardiologists. Among the 27 doctors who made more than $2 million that year, 17 were ophthalmologists.
Matthews wants doctors to accept a two-year wage freeze, as well as swallowing cuts in some fees and absorbing the cost of new patients and new doctors. Despite those changes, she says she doesn’t believe doctors here will look for greener pastures — especially since the average doctor makes 85% more than when the Liberal government came to power in 2003.
“Ontario’s (doctors) are the best paid in the country,” she said. “Alberta is close but I can’t imagine that there’s any place else that they could earn more.
“Tell me where. There is just nowhere where they will be better compensated.”
In a statement last week, OMA president Dr, Doug Weir said the billing data does not represent a doctor’s take home pay — and that many physicians spend up to 40% of their total income on overhead.
“It’s important to point out that Ontario’s doctors are seeing more patients and providing more services than ever before,” Weir said. “In fact, we know that over the last five years, the number of services that patients require has increased on average by 3.7% per year.
“Specifically, there are over 2.1 million more Ontarians that now have access to a family doctor, wait times are down for several key surgeries and over 40% of doctors are working on weekends or after hours.”