Matthews optimistic after talks with Ontario doctors resume
London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
Saying she is pleased to be back at the bargaining table, Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews said she looked forward to working with doctors to find a solution to deadlocked contract negotiations.
However, Matthews, who is also MPP for London North Centre, said there has been no change in the provincial government’s position.
“Our financial reality is unchanged, we sill have to focus on that. We can get to where we need to get to much more successfully working in partnership with the doctors,” Matthews said. “I am very, very pleased to be back at the table. We will do a better job if we work in partnership with those frontline doctors.”
It was announced on Wednesday (Sept. 5), that negotiations between the Ontario Medical Association, representing the province’s 25,000 doctors, and the province would restart several months after falling apart. It was back on May 7 that Matthews announced the McGuinty government was moving to freeze doctor wages and update OHIP fees in an effort get control of provincial spending.
At that time, Matthews said the changes were expected to result in savings of $338.3 million in 2012-13. Matthews also said Ontario doctors are the best paid in the country, with the average doctor billing $385,000 and many specialists billing twice that much.
During Ontario Arts Council funding announcement at Museum London on Friday (Sept. 7), Matthews said she was “very pleased” to be back at the negotiating table and event felt a renewed optimism that a deal could be reached. That optimism, Matthews said, stems from her feeling the province’s doctors are willing to negotiate a new deal.
“I don’t think there is any question about that; the question is how we get there. We know we have to get there; the question is how. I would far rather do that in partnership with doctors than acting on our own,” Matthews said. “I am very optimistic. I don’t think either one of us would have come back if we didn’t have a really good sense this is something we could successfully achieve.”
During an interview with the Toronto Star on Wednesday, Ontario Medical Association president Doug Weir sounded conciliatory. “Doctors have a number of ideas that can build on the efficiencies we’ve found in the system to date.”
Matthews said she had no expectation around how long the negotiations might take but did say that while both sides want something done as quickly as possible, “we will take the time it needs.”
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