‘The Clock is ticking’ warn optometrists, who again threaten to stop OHIP-paid eye exams

By Richard Southern

Ontario optometrists want everyone to see that the clock is ticking on OHIP-covered eye exams.

Optometrists are renewing their threat to stop conducting OHIP-covered eye exams as of Sept. 1 unless the provincial government agrees to formal talks to boost the amount of money it pays for the exams. The Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) is also out with new digital ads Monday as it looks to inform the public of its position.

“The clock is ticking. Your eyecare will end on September 1st,” the ads warned.

OAO president Dr. Sheldon Salaba said the government pays optometrists, on average, $44.65 for each exam, but the actual cost is more than $80

“The government is paying 50 per cent of the cost and the optometrist is paying the other 50 per cent” Dr. Salaba says

He warns the government has until Sept. 1 to agree to formal negotiations to fund services to, at the least, cover the actual cost of subsidized eye exams.

“We want to work with optometrists to come up with a solution that is going to benefit the people of Ontario as well as deal with their (OAO) concerns,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott.

Dr. Sheldon Salaba says the OAO last had a meeting with the health ministry officials at the beginning of December 2020.

“And we haven’t heard anything from them since. We’ve had multiple phone calls multiple emails and have pretty much been met with silence.”

He says he hopes the new ad campaign will highlight the plight of optometrists.

“The people in government are well aware that this is coming but the public less so.”

“We’re providing over four million OHIP-insured examinations to Ontarians at an annual basis, that includes seniors over the age of 65, children under the age of 20, and adults with medical conditions like diabetes, macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.”

Salaba says optometry is the backbone of the eye health care system in the province.

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