Newmarket-Aurora Eye Care Update

Published on October 08, 2021

Since day one, the government has been hard at work ensuring that patients have access to the care they need, when they need it. This includes eye and vision care for Ontarians.

 

We recognize the valuable service that optometrists provide to people living in Ontario. We also recognize that compensation increases for optometrists have been long neglected by previous governments.

 

The government has made every possible effort to lay the foundation for a long-term relationship with the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO). This includes engaging a third-party mediator, chosen by the OAO, 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 that, at the urging of the OAO, some optometrists have chosen to withhold publicly-funded services for youth and seniors. This is especially unfair for families, since the OAO continues to decline the independent, third-party mediator's conditions to resume negotiations. The current impasse lays squarely at the feet of the OAO, which, instead of good-faith negotiations, is choosing to demand an outcome before allowing them to start.

 

We thank the many optometrists who continue to provide care to their most vulnerable patients and bill OHIP.

 

We know many Ontarians are concerned about what this means for their eye and vision care. To be clear, the government continues to fund these optometry services through OHIP. Any decision to withdraw services is the decision of individual optometrists. Their regulatory body, the College of Optometrists of Ontario, has made clear that if an optometrist decides to withhold care from their patient, they are expected to take steps to ensure patients can continue to receive appropriate care such as providing urgent services or providing referrals for non-urgent services.

 

If you have questions or concerns about the care you have received from an optometrist in Ontario, please contact the college directly:

 

            College of Optometrists of Ontario
            900 - 65 St. Clair Avenue East

            Toronto ON  M4T 2Y3

            Telephone: 416-962-4071

            Toll free: 888-825-2554

            Email: [email protected]

 

The goal remains to arrive at a solution that would support the province’s over 2,500 optometrists in delivering high-quality care for patients, both now and into the future. The ministry has accepted the mediator’s conditions and communicated its continued willingness to return to mediation.

 

Furthermore, despite the OAO’s refusal to come back to the table, the government is making an immediate one-time payment of $39 million on to optometrists in good faith to demonstrate commitment to reach an agreement. This payment amounts to funds they would have received since their last deal with the previous government expired in 2011, had they received similar increases to physicians over that period. In addition to this one-time funding boost, we have also offered an immediate OHIP fee increase of 8.48 per cent, retroactive to April 1, 2021, as well as a joint working group to collaborate on investigating the cost of overhead, which we know is important to optometrists.

 

As we have said time and time again, we are ready and waiting to continue meaningful and productive discussions. We urge the OAO to come back to the table and work with us to ensure Ontarians continue to access the care they need and deserve.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions to our Constituency Office 

What if my Optometrist cancels my appointment?

If an optometrist proceeds to withdraw services, they must take steps to mitigate any adverse effects on patients and public. Additionally, optometrists must continue to provide urgent care, or any treatment needed to prevent harm, suffering and/or deterioration during a job action.

If an optometrist is unable to provide care, alternate care must be arranged for the patient within an appropriate timeline. In determining urgent care, an optometrist must use their clinical judgement and consider their professional responsibility to ensure a patient’s well-being when assessing that patient’s individual needs.

A refusal to treat or a referral that results in a delayed treatment is not in patients’ best interests.

Where can I find a new Optometrist?

All registered Ontario Optometrists can be found on the Colleges website here: PublicRegisterMember (collegeoptom.on.ca)

Any decision to withdraw services is the decision of individual optometrists. It’s important to note that the Ontario Association of Optometrists is a voluntary association and that there are over 700 Optometrists in Ontario who are not members.

We encourage you to reach out to your individual Optometrist directly if you have any concerns.

What if I feel like my optometrist is not acting in my best interest?

When you visit an optometrist, you have the right to expect safe, quality eye care. If you have an unresolved concern with an optometrist, the College of Optometrists of Ontario encourages you first to speak directly with the optometrist in an effort to reach a solution to the problem. If this approach is unsuccessful, you may wish to submit a formal written complaint.

If you wish to make a complaint against a member of the College, please complete and submit the Complaint Form.