Ottawa/Queen's Park



eye exam2

We asked Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker for a statement about the Ontario government's plan for negotiating with the optometrists to care for the eye health of his constituents.  His assistant responded with this statement from Health Minister Christine Elliott.

"Since day one, our government has been hard at work ensuring that patients have access to the care they need — when they need it.

Our government has made every effort possible to lay the foundation for a long-term relationship with the Ontario Association of Optometrists. This includes engaging a third-party mediator to assist us in reaching an agreement and offering a one-time lump sum payment as well as an immediate OHIP fee increase. This represents a significant and sustainable increase in today’s highly-constrained fiscal environment.

While we had hoped that these discussions would lead to a positive outcome, we are extremely disappointed in the OAO’s decision to decline to resume mediation, as well as the OAO’s encouragement of Ontario’s optometrists to withdraw services, starting today, that many vulnerable Ontarians rely on. To do so as Ontario faces the fourth wave of the pandemic is unconscionable.

The mediator left the parties this weekend with a standing invitation to resume mediation. The ministry has accepted the mediator’s conditions and communicated its continued willingness to return to mediation, and is ready, willing, and able to do just that. Despite the OAO maintaining they are at the table, it’s unclear what table they are sitting at given they have declined the mediator’s conditions. We await a change of heart from the OAO.

I want to be clear that our government will continue to fund these optometry services through OHIP. Any decision to withdraw services is the decision of individual optometrists. The College of Optometrists of Ontario has made clear that if an individual optometrist decides to withhold care from a patient, they are expected to take steps to ensure the patient can continue to receive appropriate care.

My goal remains to arrive at a solution that would support the province’s 2,500 optometrists in delivering high-quality care for patients, both now and into the future. Our government’s offer is an extremely fair and reasonable one, and I urge the OAO to stop withholding care from patients and commit to reaching an agreement today.

Minister Elliott

(A statement on behalf of Dr. Sheldon Salaba, President of the Ontario Association of Optometrists, is available here.)


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