September 7, 2021

Dear eyeDOCS Patients,

On September 1st, Optometrists in Ontario discontinued providing OHIP insured services to millions of children, seniors, and people with certain eye diseases across our province. This action was an unfortunate, but necessary step taken to ensure future access to eye care for all Ontarians.

 For over thirty years, Ontario Optometrists have not been provided with funding increases that have matched inflation and other costs associated with delivering quality eye care. This chronic underfunding has created a situation where optometrists have to actually pay out of their own pocket to examine OHIP insured patients. It costs your optometrist an average of $80 to examine an individual who is eligible for OHIP coverage. The Ministry of Health pays an average of $45 of that amount. By law, we are not permitted to charge user fees to make up the shortfall.

 As difficult as it is to take the step to discontinue care, we had no other choices available. Optometrists do not have a union and there is no legal mechanism available to force the Government to actually pay for the services that they want Optometrists to provide. Despite being warned for months of impeding job action, the Ministry of Health has not shown a willingness to negotiate or address funding shortfalls.

 Please consider joining us and adding your voice to the call for improved funding. The Ontario Association of Optometrists has set up a webpage that allows Ontarians to advocate for their eye care and urge the Government to take steps to end this crisis. For further background information and an opportunity to learn more, please visit:

 www.saveeyecare.ca

 We thank all of you for your understanding and appreciate your support. In the meantime, please rest assured that we are here to answer any questions you may have.

 Sincerely,

 Your eyeDOCS Optometrists

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What will it take to resolve this dispute?

  • Optometrists have two simple asks:
  1. That the Government ensures we can recover the costs of providing an OHIP insured examination
  2. That a mechanism be put in place that guarantees that access to quality care won’t be threatened by future shortfalls in funding.

How does reimbursement for Optometrists in Ontario compare to the rest of Canada?

  • Not all Provinces fund eye care for children and seniors. Among those that do, funding from Ontario is by far the lowest. An increase of 60% would be needed to make us even with Manitoba, which is the next lowest

I heard the Government committed $39 Million to fix this. Why is there still a problem?

  • The payment announced unilaterally by the Ministry covers a fraction of the shortfall in funding that Optometry faces every year. It does nothing to address the unsustainable nature of the current system.

Why is the system underfunded?

  • The last meaningful fee adjustment for eye care happened in 1989. Since then, everything has become more expensive. Also, Optometrists provide a range of Primary Heath care services and treatments, which creates a need to purchase expensive equipment. There is no mechanism by which the Government has to increase funding to match inflation or costs.

I have private insurance, so can I just pay separately for an examination?

  • There is a law in place that prevents Optometrists from accepting anything more than the Ministry approved fee for providing a service. Ironically, this law was put in place because the Government claimed that Optometrists provide an essential service that must be accessible to all. The Government seems to not recognize that Optometric services actually have to be adequately funded to be accessible.