Ontario Medical Association sets date for vote on proposed fee agreement

3,000 signatures on petition to force delay

TORONTO (CP) — The Ontario Medical Association has set the date for doctors to vote on a proposed fee agreement between the association and the province.

In a statement Saturday, the OMA said the general meeting will take place Aug. 14 in Toronto to vote on the Physician Services Agreement first announced on July 11.

Doctors unhappy with the four-year deal - which would increase Ontario's $11.5-billion physician services budget by 2.5 per cent a year, to $12.9 billion by 2020 - forced a delay in ratification Monday after 3,000 physicians signed a petition put forward by opponents.

A group called Concerned Ontario Doctors also held a protest march in Toronto a little over a week ago to denounce the fee agreement.

The petition said physicians were facing unreasonably tight deadlines: two weeks to analyze the contract, one week for a province-wide vote and one day for OMA council members to meet, debate the contract and vote to ratify it or not.

The OMA agreed to call off the referendum and instead hold a full membership meeting to discuss the agreement, with a vote by all doctors present that will be binding on the association.

Virginia Walley, president of the OMA, said Saturday that although the tentative agreement isn't perfect, “with it our profession now has the opportunity to move forward with much-needed stability and predictability.''

“That's in stark contrast to the potential outcome of voting no - with continued unilateral action with possible and permanent cuts of more than $1 billion to funding for physician services,'' she said.

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