Every day optometrists take pride in helping our patients see clearly and preventing blindness. But today we need your help.
For over 30 years, the Ontario government has refused to formally negotiate with optometrists.
In 1989, the Ontario government paid $39.15 for an eye exam.
In 2021, 32 years later, they pay an average of $44.65.
This amount does not come close to covering the cost (including rent, staff, utilities, equipment, taxes and supplies) to provide an eye exam.
This is not sustainable and yet the Ontario government continues to ignore your care.
They have left optometrists with no choice. If they do not prioritize eye care, as of September 1, 2021, access to eye care for millions of Ontarians will end.
Dear [your MPP],
I am writing to you as my Member of Provincial Parliament because I value access to the quality eye care that optometrists provide – and you need to act now to protect it.
I view their two simple requests as VERY reasonable:
1.Ontario optometrists want to uphold their Charter Right to collective bargaining after being denied negotiations for 30 years.
2. Ontario optometrists should not have to pay out of pocket to examine patients that are insured by OHIP.
As an Ontario voter, this issue matters to me. Will you help fix OHIP-insured eye care so that my family and I can continue to have access to the quality health care that we deserve before the September 1 deadline?
Routine eye care is critical in early detection of eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
The lack of funding makes it difficult to invest in modern technology. Newer technology means earlier detection.
80% of learning is done through vision and children depend on healthy eyes to succeed in school.
The health of your eyes is critical to your overall health and quality of life.
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.
Our current efforts only refer to OHIP-covered patients, those aged 0-19, 65+, and living with specific eye conditions or diabetes. Even if you are not insured by OHIP, it’s likely that some of your friends or family are. In 1989, the Ontario government paid $39.15 towards an OHIP-covered eye exam. In 2021, 32 years later, the Ontario government pays $44.65, with the optometrist covering the rest of that cost. With over four million services performed annually under OHIP, this level of funding is not sustainable. We are asking the government to prioritize eye healthcare by closing the gap between their funding and inflation.
Unlike teachers, nurses, or physicians, we have no formal negotiating process with the government. The government is not legally obligated to partake in important conversations about ensuring access to quality eye care or the sustainability of their current funding. We need to stand up for the rights of our patients to have the best quality eye care.
We are waiting until September 1, 2021, to continue to show the government we want to be reasonable, and we are open to discussions. They have failed to meet with us for over six months, and the families of Ontario have the right to have a supported and properly funded eye care system. We hope the government agrees to meet formal negotiations before September 1, but if they do not, we will fight for the eye care of Ontarians.
Optometrists are permitted to engage in job action in accordance with the College of Optometrists’ Job Action policy. Optometrists are required to mitigate harm and ensure that the patient has access to alternate care during job action. Our patients care is our top priority, and we are fighting to ensure continued access to quality eye care through a more sustainable funding model.
In 2004, individuals 20-64 years of age were delisted from OHIP unless they have one or more specific medical conditions or was referred to an optometrist by a physician or nurse practitioner. There are currently four million services performed annually under OHIP, and the average optometrist’s patient load is 70% OHIP-insured.
If we get to September 1 without an agreement to formal negotiations, then your appointment may be delayed for a short time. If the government continues to neglect eye care and the job action will be more prolonged, then your optometrist will refer you to the appropriate surgeon (ophthalmologist) to take care of your eye care needs. Ophthalmologists are separately funded to provide care; however, wait times will be longer than with your optometrist.
No. Unfortunately, provincial law prevents anyone from paying for any OHIP-insured service, even if you have your own insurance.
No. Optometrists follow the fee guide published by the Ontario Association of Optometrists and we are aligned with those fees charged in other provinces. Unfortunately, provincial law prevents you from paying for any OHIP insured service, even if you have your own insurance.