Has D-Day come for any deal between Ontario and optometrists to continue OHIP-funded eyewear?

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Published August 31, 2021 at 1:54 pm

It’s looking like D-Day has come and is about to pass for any deal between the Ontario government and the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO).

The OAO says it has been underfunded by the government for over 30 years regarding OHIP-insured eye exams and voted months ago to withhold services as of September 1.

That’s tomorrow and no word so far today from the Ford government.

Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch, also the NDP’s Municipal Affair Centre, said he’s baffled why the government won’t sit at the table with the OAO to negotiate a service that’s vital for seniors.

“My office continues to receive petitions to be presented in the Legislature on the desperate need for the Ford government to reach a long-term funding solution for optometrists,” said Burch.

“They are simply asking the Ford Government to sit down and negotiate a legally binding agreement to properly fund OHIP-insured eye exams.”

Burch reiterated that the understanding is hurting those who are most vulnerable.

“It is simply financially unsustainable with our large seniors’ community. This does have a direct impact on their health. Premier Ford, stop playing games with our eyesight and get this resolved now.”

On August 17, the government of Ontario tried to placate the province’s optometrists with a $39 million one-time payment to offset the costs that the industry is currently paying out of pocket.

But the OAO president Dr. Sheldon Salaba said the $39 million payment only covers less than a quarter of the group’s annual funding deficit.

Salaba says the province isn’t committing to any long-term solution to address what the association has described as years of underfunding for eye doctors.

“Optometrists are being fair and reasonable: we ask only that government commit to cover at least the cost of service delivery, and we’re giving them lots of notice to avoid any impact on patients.”

 

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