Ontario optometrists withdraw from OHIP September 1st
The optometrists and staff at Pierce Family Vision were hoping that the Ontario Government was serious about resolving the chronic underfunding of optometry stretching back over 30 years (Eye exam in 1989 $39.15- Eye exam in 2021 ~$44.65). However this particular Minister of Health Christine Elliott has again ignored our pleas for another year until just a few weeks ago and is now attempting to force a small increase on us of less than $4.00 to ~$48.43. This would still leave us as the lowest paid optometrists in Canada by far and keep us there forever. Manitoba optometrists are paid $77.18 and Quebec optometrists ~$99.40 for the same services.
We are sad to say that the Government of Ontario has declared this singular offer to be “extremely fair and reasonable”, however the Bank of Canada inflation calculator puts a $39.15 exam from 1989 at $73.89. As well, in 1989 there were no computers or pre-testing equipment in our office and we had many fewer staff members, meaning costs have increased much more than that. And COVID has reduced our capacities and increased our costs yet further. So how can it be “fair and reasonable” to pay the optometrists in Ontario at a rate so much lower than all other provinces?
Out of desperation, Ontario optometrists have withdrawn from OHIP. Seniors, children, diabetics and other OHIP covered individuals cannot even pay to see an optometrist as we could be fined up to $25,000 for charging for an OHIP covered service. This situation is going to become very frustrating for our patients as well as for the optometrists and staff at Pierce Family Vision. We really just want to provide the same high quality eye care that we always have. But if we let this situation go on any longer without resolution, we won’t be here to provide that care.
So we are yet again asking for your help. If you would like to send an email or a tweet or phone the Minister of Health Christine Elliott asking her to commit to paying optometrists fairly we would appreciate it (Christine.Elliott@pc.ola.org, @celliottability, (905)-853-9889). If you need a routine eye examination, please call our office to be put on a priority wait list for when this situation is resolved. If you have a true ocular emergency, we would ask that you go to emergency just like you would during weekends and evenings when we are not available. If your issue seems urgent but not a true emergency then please call our office and we will do our best to ensure that you are seen by an appropriate medical individual.
We do not wish to distress our patients by this withdrawal of service however the present Government of Ontario has given us no choice. This situation needs to be resolved permanently and it needs to be resolved now. We ask that you will please treat our staff with kindness and understanding during this difficult time for all.