I was disappointed to see such a one-sided article in last Wednesday’s FF Times. I’d like to take this opportunity to share the other side of this dispute. The Minister of Health is being disingenuous when she says the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) is not ready to return to the table. Any healthcare profession, such as Optometry, that wants to reach an agreement with the government would certainly not want to actively stay away from negotiations. After several days of mediation the two parties agreed that there was too large of a difference to bridge with mediation. Two hours after that, the Ministry egregiously breached the confidentiality of that mediational process by releasing an offer through the media directly to the public. Subsequent to that, they bypassed our official negotiation body, the OAO, by going directly to Optometrists with the $39 million dollar bribe. Ontario Optometrists stand by the fact that we are ready to begin negotiations again immediately, but what we require though is the Ministry of Health to make a public commitment that Optometry in Ontario will no longer be the lowest publicly funded eyecare provider in the country.
The overwhelming majority of Optometrists in Ontario definitely support this withdrawal of services because they have reached a breaking point after decades of being ignored by successive political parties of all stripes. I think the Premier and Minister of Health are missing out on a glorious opportunity to do the right thing and be the first political party in decades to actually recognize that Ontarions deserve access to quality sustainable eyecare and that the profession of Optometry deserves the respect of the Ministry of Health.
Dr. Bruce Lidkea
Editor’s Note: The Times published two articles from different perspectives over the past two weeks. On September 29, we published the views of optometrists in an article titled “Ontario’s optometrists not optimistic.” The ministry’s rebuttal to that article was published the following week, in an article titled “Ministry clarifies vision for optometry.” Both articles are available on our website www.fftimes.com.
– Megan Walchuk