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Ontario government strikes deal with doctors

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced Tuesday that the provincial government has reached a tentative deal with its doctors.

The new physicians services agreement would run until March 2014. The agreement with the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) is pending ratification in December.

“This new agreement respects our fiscal plan. It respects Ontario doctors. It protects all the gains we’ve made together on behalf of Ontario patients,” McGuinty said.

The proposed deal includes plans to lower wait times through e-consultations and an expansion of telemedicine services; new priority investments to expand access to family doctors and expand house calls; reducing unnecessary pre-op cardiac testing for low-risk cardiac patients and reducing other unnecessary medical tests, among other changes.

Savings from the reforms listed above will allow the physician services budget to increase by $100 million over two years to help new doctors join the health care system.

Six fees will also be adjusted: the self-referral fee; the Optical Coherence Tomography fee, the after-hours premium, the anesthesia flat fee, the laparoscopic premium, and the Coronary Intensive Care premium.

“I am pleased to have reached an agreement with the OMA that puts patients first and respects our doctors,” Health Minister Deb Matthews said in a statement.

“This agreement renews a real partnership between our government and Ontario’s doctors, as we transform Ontario’s public medicare system so that it is there for our children and grandchildren.”

McGuinty said the proposal has been endorsed unanimously by the OMA board.

“Ontario doctors were pleased to help the province find savings in the health care system that protect patient care and allow for investments in other areas. Most important to patients, we’ve established a partnership that means that we can continue this important work in the future,” OMA president Doug Weir said in a statement.

It’s been a rocky road to reaching a deal. In July, the OMA, which represents 25,000 doctors, filed documents with the Ontario Superior Court asking it to review the McGuinty government’s negotiating tactics.

With files from 680News