The province’s eye doctors will resume OHIP-covered services Tuesday as their association heads to the bargaining table with the Doug Ford government.
Thousands of Ontarians have raised concerns about the impasse and the impact on eye services.
“The Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) and the Ministry of Health have agreed to enter formal negotiations regarding OHIP funding of optometric care,” the association said in a statement Monday.
“As a sign of good faith, the OAO is pausing its job action as of Nov. 23, 2021, ensuring that millions of Ontarians insured by OHIP can again benefit from the expertise of their optometrist during these negotiations.”
The OAO estimated close to 95% of its members were no longer providing OHIP-covered services for patients, including children, teens and seniors.
OHIP pays optometrists $44.65 on average for an eye exam, up from $39.15 in 1989, while Alberta shells out $137, the OAO says.
Health Minister Christine Elliott has indicated her government wants a long-term relationship with the OAO, recently offering a one-time ‘catch up’ payment of $39 million to cover the cost of a retroactive 8.48% increase in the OHIP fee.
“On Oct. 6, Minister Elliott stated in the Ontario legislature: ‘We don’t expect optometrists to pay out of pocket for the services that they provide,’ offering a public commitment that the government will ensure that the cost of delivering OHIP-insured services is not borne by optometrists,” the association said in its statement.
“The OAO is committed to negotiating a sustainable funding model that aligns with how optometric care is funded in other Canadian jurisdictions. The OAO expects robust talks to begin immediately, noting that the swift resolution of this issue is a top priority for both optometrists and their patients.”