Doctors say government neglect, mismanagement to blame for sorry state of health care

A group that advocates for Ontario doctors says the provincial government has created a crisis in health care through years of neglect and mismanagement.

The result has been a marked decline in the quality of patient care, Dr. Kulvinder Gill, president of Concerned Ontario Doctors, told reporters at Queen’s Park.

“Today, we are in the midst of the worst health care crisis Ontario has ever seen,” Gill said Tuesday.

“This did not happen overnight. It is the result of years of complete and utter neglect and gross mismanagement of our once great health care system.” Concerned Ontario Doctors says physicians have entered a fifth year without a contract with the Ontario government.(CBC)

The organization is calling on the government to do the following:

  • Reduce bureaucracy with the aim of creating a lean management system; that means getting rid of Local Health Integration Networks, agencies created by the provincial government to plan, co-ordinate, integrate and fund health services at a local level.
  • Create a health care task force composed of practising physicians to find solutions to the health care crisis.
  • Address the problem of physician burnout and high suicide rates.
  • Conduct a forensic audit of the Ontario Medical Association and ask a retired judge to oversee the audit.

Gill accused the province of rationing health care in Ontario while expanding its bureaucracy.

Many doctors retiring early, closing clinics

Many doctors, in response to the health care crisis, have retired earlier than planned and closed their clinics, while some have left the province entirely, she said.

About a million people in Ontario are without family doctors and wait times for some specialists are now longer than three years. Many doctors, in response to the health care crisis, have retired earlier than planned and closed their clinics, while some have left the province entirely, the group says.(Goodluz/Shutterstock)

Gill said Ontario has become a “world leader” in health care bureaucracy, with provincial money being spent on hospital executives, CEOs and the local health integration networks.

“These are the only parts of our health care system that have consistently seen increases in funding and growth over the last decade,” she said.

Many doctors believe the networks are not held accountable by the Ontario health ministry and fail to meet their mandate.

“Frontline physicians have been voiceless against all of this. Our government has attacked and vilified frontline physicians,” she said.

Government says Ontario doctors well paid

When asked about the news conference, Ontario Health Minister Helena Jaczek said in an email that Ontario physicians are among the best paid in Canada and in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Ontario Health Minister Helena Jaczek says the average doctor in the province bills more than $ 348,000 a year.(Ousama Farag/CBC News)

“Ontario’s doctors are essential to the delivery of a strong and sustainable health care sector,” she said, adding the average doctor in Ontario bills over $ 348,000 a year. Specialists often bill hundreds of thousands more with nearly 500 billing more than $ 1 million more last year, she said.

“Ontario doctors are paid well because they do good, important work. That’s why we’re proposing an increase in the amount we pay them by $ 3 billion over the next four years — about 10 per cent over that time frame.”

Province concerned about access, wait times

The government is concerned about improving access to care and reducing wait times, she added.

Its concern was reflected in its 2018 budget, which included major investments in hospitals, home care, mental health and additional staff to support seniors in long-term care, she said. 

“We’ve increased our investments in health care every year — our wait times are the best in Canada, from MRIs to CT scans, ultrasounds and overall specialist wait times. Our wait times for cataracts and knee replacements are half the OECD average, but we are also constantly working to deliver better results, build a more tailored health care system that is responding to each need.”

Jaczek declined to comment on accusations that the province has spent too much on health care bureaucracy.

Doctors still without a contract with province

The group said doctors have entered a fifth year without a contract with the Ontario government.

In a news release on Tuesday, the group said: “The ongoing abuse and vilification of physicians by Wynne’s government has created a toxic environment with record-high physician burnout and suicide rates,” the release reads.

“In 2018, Ontario already has one million patients without a family doctor, unprecedented emergency room gridlocks with stretchers with seniors endlessly lining hallway corridors, closure of operating rooms, cancellation of essential surgeries and wait times to see some specialists skyrocketing to more than three years,” the website reads. 

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