Premier Dalton McGuinty talks to reporters about the shooting in Scarborough while in Guelph on July 17, 2012. (Jonathan Jenkins/Toronto Sun)
TORONTO - Most Ontario doctors accept the province’s need to cap their wages, Premier Dalton McGuinty says.
“We made a commitment in the campaign to freeze doctors wages and now we’re going to deliver on that,” McGuinty said Tuesday. “I think they’ve seen reasonable increases in compensation but now our economic circumstances demand that we hit the pause button for a couple of years. And I think most doctors are with us in this regard.”
Sun Media has revealed that 407 doctors billed OHIP for $1 million and up – a list that included 101 radiologists, 77 ophthalmologists, 55 cardiologists and 48 family physicians.
The highest billing physician in 2010 received $6.4 million in fee-for-service payments.
The Ontario Medical Association (OMA), which represents the vast majority of the province’s doctors, says overhead swallows up 35-40% of the funds.
Health Minister Deb Matthews said Tuesday that the OHIP fee schedule needs to be rebalanced because improvements in technology have allowed some specialities to earn a disproportionately higher income than most of their colleagues.
The government has already moved on its own to implement changes that would see some fees reduced.
“These are gains that all of us should be sharing, that should be reinvested into parts of the health care system that are not adequately funded, and that would be the home care sector and the community sector,” Matthews said.
OMA President Dr. Doug Weir says technological improvements have meant dramatically shorter wait lists for key health services and ensured more people get a family doctor.
“Despite what the minister has suggested, we believe patients have benefited from technological improvements to health procedures and testing,” Weir said.
The McGuinty government and the OMA are at an impasse in compensation talks.
Doctors have offered a fee freeze and additional savings which they say add up to a 2.5% fee cut, but the government is insisting on freezing the entire compensation budget, a move the OMA says would force physicians to absorb the cost of the expected increase in demand for their services.