On behalf of all members of the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO), we would like to thank you for your support in letting the Ontario government know that eye care is vital to your healthcare. Over 300,000 Ontarians have sent letters and signed petitions to the Health Minister voicing their concerns. Thank you!
We would like to provide you with an update on our discussions with the Ontario government. Unfortunately, since September 1, millions of Ontarians have lost access to primary eye care services because the Ontario government continues to neglect optometry services. Here is a brief update on what has been happening:
- The Ministry of Health did not communicate with optometrists from December 5, 2020 until August 5, 2021.
- An independent third party accounting firm (BDO) determined that the average operating cost (rent, staff, and equipment) to provide an eye exam in Ontario (without doctor compensation) was $75.51.
- The government has offered optometrists an increase of 8.48%. Such an increase would move the average payment for an eye exam from $44.65 to $48.43 requiring the average Ontario optometrist today to still pay more than $27 out of pocket to examine an OHIP-insured patient.
- Such an offer would ensure that the eye exams Ontarians receive will continue to be the worst funded in Canada. To reach the funding levels of the next lowest-funded province (Manitoba) in the country, a 65% increase in funding is needed. Our equipment, staffing, and rent costs are not lower than those in Manitoba.
- The government also offered a one-time $39 million payment to help with underfunding of the last decade. This averages to just over $1 per exam for every optometry service performed over the last decade. It is focused on the past and does nothing to address Ontario’s broken and unsustainable eye care system. It is a complete waste of taxpayers’ dollars.
- While the government states that this offer is fair, the math is simple. Ontarians understand how this government is continuing to follow previous governments by neglecting eye care and exploiting the valuable services optometrists provide. It simply is not a sustainable solution.
- To this day, the government refuses to enter into negotiations where they will agree to either cover the complete overhead costs required to provide an exam or ensure Ontario optometrists will not remain the lowest funded in all of Canada. Ontario optometrists are waiting at the table for them to agree to either of those very basic and fair principles.
- Eye surgeons (ophthalmologists) across our province work together with optometrists to provide eye care for Ontarians. Like you, many have written letters to the Ontario government in support of fixing eye care. One Ontario ophthalmologist states:
“I believe that many in government do not fully understand the impact of the Optometric role and may minimize it’s standing in the delivery of health care to all Ontarians. The net effect of this misunderstanding, in my opinion, is exactly why Ontario Optometrists are underpaid and undervalued.”
Eye health has a direct impact on an individual’s quality of life, and we will continue to advocate for our patients whose lives are negatively impacted by the Ontario government’s lack of interest in this aspect of essential healthcare.
Please call your local MPP’s office and let them know that you need the government to fix eye care. Tell them you support your local optometrist and you value the services that they provide. You can find their contact information here: https://www.ola.org/en/members/current
Thank you again for your continued support!
Whitby Vision Care
Dr Pamela Schmitz
Dr Linda Sujo
Dr Pamela Andrews
Dr Ketha Sivasegaran