OMA Section on Rheumatology Report

Dr. Philip Baer

Since my last update in December, OMA issues have evolved at a furious pace. Much has been reported in the Toronto Star, as well as in social media.

A petition by 25 concerned OMA members led to a special meeting of OMA Council Jan. 29th. A motion of non-confidence in the OMA Executive was approved by 55%, but motions to remove the individual members of the OMA Executive failed to obtain the necessary 2/3 of votes in favour. After a week of reflection, the entire OMA Executive resigned.

We currently have no OMA President or President-Elect. We have a Board Chair, Secretary and Honorary Treasurer: Chair is Dr. Albert Ng, Treasurer is Dr. Rick Tytus, Secretary and OMA spokesperson is Dr. Rachel Forman.

On March 25th, I will attend yet another Special Meeting of OMA Council to decide how we elect the OMA President in future.

Recently, both the OMA and the government appointed new Negotiations Committees. Meetings are to start shortly, with the OMA supported by our new negotiations advisor, the well-known labour lawyer Howard Goldblatt. Both sides have agreed that binding arbitration will be the first issue to be discussed. Pending these negotiations, the government has agreed not to take any further unilateral actions affecting fees.

Meanwhile, the OMA Physician Action Working Group (PAWG) has been looking at possible physician job action, both to pressure the government, and in the event no agreement can be reached.

At the behest of the OMA, I sent a request for suggestions on job action to each of our members. Fewer than 10 responded, signaling little appetite for any such action.

Of those who responded, several felt job action was foolish or likely to harm our position, while others suggested declining non-clinical tasks, such as filling out forms for patients. Refusing to deal with matters over the phone (advice, prescription refills, etc.) was also raised. On March 3rd, Dr. Julie Kovacs attended a Medical Assembly roundtable on job action and presented this information.

We continue to be represented at all regular and special meetings of OMA Council, at all Medical Assembly meetings and teleconferences, and at all meetings and teleconferences related to OMA initiatives.

The 2017 OMA single election period has concluded. The current Rheumatology Section Executive were all acclaimed: Chair and Delegate Philip Baer, vice-Chair Nikhil Chopra and Secretary Julie Kovacs. There was a great deal of turnover in contested election races for various Section and District positions on OMA Council, with many incumbents being defeated. Election turnout in most races was a disappointing 10-20%.

I continue as an OMA representative on the Ministry of Health SADIE task force looking at modernizing the OPDP EAP program for drug access, using a web portal and eventually direct links to physicians’ EMRs. Dr. Jane Purvis and Dr. Chris McKibbon have also participated, and we are liaising with the ORA Informatics Committee as well.

Please monitor the MOHLTC website under the Health Professionals tab for new developments: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/

There are links there to OHIP Physician Bulletins: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/ohip/bulletins/ and to updates regarding the OPDP formulary, including new EAP listings: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/drugs/eap_criteria.aspx

You may also keep abreast of OMA issues by reading the Ontario Medical Review (OMR), the OMA monthly magazine available in print form and on the OMA website: www.oma.org.

Philip A. Baer MDCM, FRCPC, FACR
Chair, OMA Section of Rheumatology