Eight months have passed since grassroots OMA members rejected the tPSA and called on its leaders to create positive and lasting change. A major objective was to change the way the OMA represented physicians in order to restore trust and better represent all Ontario doctors, both internally and externally.
What has happened since?
The rejection of the tPSA created momentum that ushered in many new doctors into leadership positions who advocate a reform agenda seeking increased democracy and a new governance process guided by strongly supported principles.
1. Despite that success, many of the OMA old guard leaders clung on instead of respecting the will of colleagues to stand aside and let fresh approaches be tried. It resulted in a stand-off that mired our Association in a quagmire of unnecessary dissension and disorder. Instead of honourably engaging the grassroots leaders to help effect change, the OMA old guard chose to largely shun them.
2. Instead of broadening the decision-making base, power has been concentrated in even fewer hands. Today, one former OMA Board member who was not re-elected is the Chair of virtually every major OMA committee (Special Committee, Negotiations, Governance, etc.). True reform is being stymied. It begs the question why so much power remains in the hands of one unelected person who is identified with a rejected direction and who stands in the way of increased accountability, transparency and true governance reform.
3. Transparency and consultation with physician leaders has not occurred as was promised after the failed tPSA vote even though doctors and the OMA strongly endorsed it. No direct outreach to OMA Section leaders has taken place.
4. The last OMA external negotiations advisor was dropped after the failed tPSA. The OMA has recently engaged his brother to act as a mediator in the forthcoming OMA negotiations with the Ministry. On the surface it appears to be an odd development. Consultation with physician leaders may have assuaged the obvious questions. Unfortunately the OMA chose not to consult or felt it had no obligation to explain itself.
5. Doctors are now represented by an external legal advisor who strongly endorsed the failed tPSA last summer and appeared to strongly support the MOH’s position. Also, the OMA ignored his flagrant conflict of interest about how his ongoing role as the legal representative of PARO and how their different negotiating positions would not undermine the interests of practicing doctors. Again, the OMA old guard felt there was no apparent need to explain how this would be managed or how problems down the road would be addressed. It lacks the requisite transparency and misses the accountability that reasonable-minded doctors expect.
This is not change. This is “business as usual” at the OMA, which continues to neglect the wishes of grassroots members who desire more transparency, accountability, and responsiveness from its leaders. There is no obvious respect for process or principle that reflects the widespread desire among doctors for reform at the OMA.
It is time for meaningful reform of the OMA; the kind that the Coalition of Ontario Doctors has been advocating for months.
- It is time to restore trust.
- It is time to ensure transparency, accountability and fairness.
- It is time for true, sincere engagement of all OMA members.
- It is time for the OMA to live up to its promises.
- It is time for all doctors to be better represented by new leaders.
- It is time for real change. It’s time for real action.
- It’s time to correct some of these decisions that are out of step with the needs of Ontario doctors.
For more information, read the Coalition of Ontario Doctors’ position statement charting a new direction on the COALITION POSITION PAPER ON OMA GOVERNANCE REFORM.
Coalition of Ontario Doctors