Tuesday, February 7, 2017

OMA Turmoil! Is there More than Meets the Eye?

The Ontario Medical Association is set to transform! Either that, or I might need to revisit that post of mine on the Gong Show from last summer.

A recap for those of you who've tried to put Ontario medical politics out of your mind while dealing with...well, just about anything in life that's more interesting: last August, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) membership overwhelmingly rejected a contentious tentative agreement with the governing provincial Liberals. The government tried again this past December, making an even worse offer - given to the press before the doctors this time around - that was flatly rejected by the OMA out of the gate. Though there were still voices out there looking to make peace with the government, it appeared as though nothing was going to happen until after the next provincial election.

Not to be outdone, though, 25 of the doctors most vehemently outraged by the August deal forced a special meeting of the OMA Council. At that meeting, a non-confidence motion was passed, chastening the OMA Executive for failing to fulfill its obligations to the membership. There were motions put forward to name and remove each member of the Executive as well, but none of those (binding) motions met the threshold to pass. Not that it mattered, because the entire Executive leadership resigned anyways, leaving a vacuum until elections are held this spring.

And thus begins the OMA's search for new leadership. For doctors and patients interested in this sort of thing (spoiler alert: the numbers are far less than doctors would like to believe), it means an inevitable period of instability that follows this sort of "palace coup". It means wrangling over the OMA's 40 pages of by-laws! Fears that Ontario is a fascist state! And bringing back the spectacularly by-Gawd-awful-zombie idea of a doctor's strike!

Why anybody would be in a rush to head up the OMA is a mystery. The outgoing President, Dr. Virginia Walley, caught crap from all directions in the wake of last summer's offer, crap that only intensified after the OMA went along with its members and rejected the December offer out of hand. Unlike, say, the U.S. Presidency, there's no way to get rich as head of the OMA. Even though the doctors are pushing hard for Patrick Brown's Conservatives, there's no guarantee the PCs will oust the Wynne Liberals, nor is there even a vague commitment on the part of the PCs to backtrack on Liberal funding cuts.

So the interminable, internecine squabbles in the OMA will go on. And on. And on. Or perhaps lightning will strike, and whoever steps up to the plate this spring can bring some sort of peace and unity to the profession. Or, in a time of widespread dissatisfaction among working doctors and severe budget constraints on the government, perhaps the new OMA leaders are just heading right into the line of fire.

Be sure to check out the memoir, now in Kindle and paperback formats!

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