Doctors across Ontario are participating in a virtual day of action in protest of funding cuts to physician services.

The Ontario Medical Association is asking people to use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter today to speak out against the cuts the provincial Ministry of Health has made on physician services.

A 1.3 per cent cut takes effect today, bringing the total cuts to 6.9 per cent since February of this year.

OMA president Michael Toth said the day of action is a way to send a strong message to the government that they need to put patient care first.

“There is no doubt (the cuts) are putting strain on the system and will begin to affect the kind of care physicians can provide to their patients,” said Toth. “Physicians want to provide high-quality care to their patients; it’s kind of what we do best and this is making it very difficult.”

Some specialties are being harder hit than others, particularly radiology, nuclear medicine and also addiction and reproductive medicine.

“We need to have patients understand that by continuing cuts to the health-care system, it makes it really unsustainable,” said Toth, adding they know they have to work with the government to get a fair agreement to not only be able to provide health-care services, but address the issues in the system.

The OMA wants to use third-party binding arbitration to continue negotiations with the province.

“We see there’s a significant power imbalance between a government that can make cuts unilaterally on physicians who really have no other place they can work,” said Toth, noting the arbitration process would address that concern.

Minister of Health Eric Hoskins said in an email that the changes the provincial government has made will have no impact on patient care.

He said they’ve asked the OMA to provide feedback on the proposed changes and the association chose not to.

Ontario doctors are also the highest paid in Canada with the average physician earning more than $350,000 per year.

“We are proud of our investments and the improvements we’ve made in physician compensation,” said Hoskins. “We have nothing but respect for the work that they do and the care that they provide. But we believe that they are fairly paid and we need to ensure that we live within our budget of physician compensation of $11.6 billion so that we can invest in homecare and other areas.”

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