For years, the OAO, on behalf of optometrists, has pressed the Government to negotiate fair and reasonable OHIP fees that allow optometrists to continue providing services to the people of Ontario. The Government has refused to engage in negotiations.
Optometrists have a constitutional right to a fair process of negotiation and dispute resolution under the protection for freedom of association in section 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This constitutional protection also gives optometrists the right to withdraw services where the Government refuses to engage in a fair and balanced negotiation process.
The College of Optometrists of Ontario has also made it clear that optometrists may take job action and withdraw services in accordance with their professional obligations. This is set out in the College’s policy on Optometric Services During Job Action.
Optometrists have the constitutional right to take action on September 1. In fact, the Government’s refusal to negotiate has left optometrists with no other choice. The September 1 service withdrawal will protect and promote the constitutional right to freedom of association and ensure that OHIP services remain sustainable in the years to come.