This weekend’s OMA Council is certainly well timed, with the backdrop of the daily drama between the OMA and Ministry of Health. Certainly passions are high among many of the physician delegates that will be attending, and I hope that the meeting proves productive in producing constructive ideas and policies moving forward.
A few thoughts…
- I know that there will be vocal criticism of the Navigator campaign throughout the weekend, that their advertisements have been disappointingly ineffective, and that actions by grassroots physicians have had more of an impact on any progress physicians have achieved with the public. Navigator and the OMA will counter that their research shows that the campaign has indeed been effective, and the criticism will counter that Navigator can’t be looked to for objective analysis of the success of their own work. Not surprisingly, very little common ground will be found on this topic, and many physicians will likely be frustrated by this impasse. My personal opinion is that although I am quite disappointed with what Navigator has produced, now is not the time to move in a completely different direction, given the fragility of the negotiations situation with the ministry. We don’t need to create the media distraction of having fired our hired PR team, as that will create its own PR nightmare, and will play into the ministry’s hands. Wait until we have an firm agreement with the ministry, and then a serious accounting needs to take place of the successes and failures of the OMA communications strategy since early 2015.
- Along the same lines, I hope we see an official, genuine acknowledgement from the OMA of the tremendous work that grassroots physicians have done in bringing attention to our cause over the past year. I think this affirmation would go a long way to heal some of the subtle rifts that are slowly creeping in between the OMA and certain factions of its membership.
- Most importantly, delegates need to be vocal about what they expect from any negotiations framework with the government. I think it’s paramount that we insist on a binding arbitration mechanism that is as iron-clad as our OMA lawyers can dream up. Any short of that just isn’t good enough. The ministry is proposing artificial deadlines to create a sense of urgency, but we have to be organizationally methodical with this. We’ve been waiting well over a year for a sensible deal, and we’re all willing to wait as long as it takes to do this right. This has been professionally and emotionally draining for many of us, and I don’t particularly want to re-experience this a few years from now. Any proposals need to be transparently shared with, and approved by, a majority of the OMA membership. Ontario physicians as a whole are unquestionably more engaged in policy issues now than they were in 2012, and I think that needs to be appreciated by the OMA in moving forward with this process. Secrecy and any sense of coercion won’t fly.
- Lastly, every section needs to have a serious discussion about where cost-savings can reasonably be found within their section (low-value services, accountability, etc.). I know that many of us have spent the past number of months defending ourselves against the financial lies from the ministry, but that shouldn’t stop honest intra-sectional discussions about sustainability measures. Self preservation from sections shouldn’t be tolerated by the OMA once we’re crafting our best offer in binding arbitration.
I’ll be at the OntarioMD booth all day on Sunday, so feel free to pop by and say hello. Enjoy what should be an interesting weekend.