Ontario says it’s open to recognizing the OMA as a union-with conditions
Steven Barrett comments on the Minister of Health’s open letter to Ontario doctors.
The Toronto Star reports that the Minister of Health sent an open letter to the province’s physicians yesterday in response to their having voted down a tentative contract between the Ontario Medical Association and the government. Physicians were concerned that the amount allocated for health care services over the next four years was not sufficient to keep up with an increasing and aging population. Doctors also want the right to go to binding arbitration to resolve contract disputes.
The Minister’s letter indicates that the provincial government is open to recognizing the OMA as a public sector union and to discussing a right to binding arbitration. However, the Minister warned that this would mean that doctors’ earnings would be made public and their right to incorporate individually (in order to obtain tax benefits) would have to be relinquished. In the letter, the Minister suggests that the president of the OMA agreed during negotiations that it would be unreasonable for the OMA to make binding arbitration a precondition to negotiations.
As he told the Star, Steven Barrett thinks the Minister’s letter might backfire.
Labour lawyer Steven Barrett said Hoskins took an “unnecessarily inflammatory and provocative stab” at Walley and the profession by sending the letter.
The government should give the OMA time to get its house in order following the defeat of the deal, he said in an email response to questions from the Star.
Barrett said it wasn’t “constructive” of Hoskins to reveal in the letter that Walley had agreed with the government during negotiations that it was “unreasonable” for doctors to demand binding arbitration as a precondition to discussions.
He warned that the move could backfire on Hoskins.
“Hopefully and perhaps ironically, at the end of the day — and I doubt this was the minister’s intention — this will result in the profession becoming more united, which is a first step to ultimately taking the actions necessary to put some collective pressure on the government with the goal of returning to the table and securing a fair process for resolving future disputes. And it may well be that the coalition and Concerned Ontario Doctor physicians will recognize this as well,” Barrett said.
“Then again, maybe minister Hoskins is pulling a Dark Knight and willing to be the villain Gotham needs for unity?”