I was thinking over the weekend about the fight going on between the Ontario government and pharmacies in the province. I'll get into what the fight is about on another day. But that issue is really part of an undeclared war on doctors in this province.
For almost 20 years now there has been a reported shortage of doctors in Ontario. Everyone seems to have a reason - doctor burnout, stress on the job, too much paperwork, etc. Well it's all a bunch of nonsense. Ontario sits in last place in Canada for number of doctors per 100,000 in population. So 20 years into this problem and it hasn't been resolved. That's because the government has no intention in correcting the shortage.
It's quite easy for the government to supply more doctors - just expand medical school admissions and allow foreign trained doctors to practice here. But if 1,000 additional doctors were to each bill OHIP $250,000 each year that would cost the government $2.5 billion. That doesn't include additional tests and other procedures that these doctors would order.
The Ontario government has cleverly used the doctor shortage as justification to shift work to other health care providers. Legislation was recently passed that amended to Regulated Health Professions Act to expand the services that many health professions can provide despite resistance from doctors. For example physiotherapists will be able to prescribe drugs and order x-rays. These changes have been justified by relieving doctors of these responsibilities. Other professions will provide these services for less money. In some cases they are not funded by OHIP which means payment of these services are transferred to the public.
The recent spat with pharmacies is just part of the government's long term strategy to save money and offload costs to others. So don't expect the doctor shortage to be resolved. It's permanent and part of the Ontario landscape.