WINDSOR — Minister of Health and Long-term Care Eric Hoskins says after the latest attempt to forge an enduring peace with doctors was rejected, it will be up to the Ontario Medical Association to make the next move and show when they're ready to come back to the bargaining table.
“We all need to take a bit of time, now, and determine how we're going to move forward,” Hoskins said this afternoon. The provincial cabinet is meeting with delegations here as part of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario annual meeting.
Hoskins insisted the weekend vote by members of the OMA, 63 per cent of whom rejected the agreement negotiated by the government and their leadership, was not a failure by him or the Liberal government.
“We reached an agreement with the OMA, the OMA failed to obtain the support of a majority of its membership,” he said.
The OMA has said it will convene a meeting of its board of directors, and is asking for time to consult its membership to see what might be the basis for future negotiations.
Hoskins, for his part, wasn't backing down on the government's position. He said the government would prefer to have a negotiated agreement with doctors but didn't rule out the possibility of imposing one (as the government did in 2015) and reiterated that one of the doctors' key demands — binding arbitration — is something he is willing to discuss at the bargaining able, but could not be a precondition for talks in the first place. Doctors had asked for binding arbitration of the kind enjoyed by emergency services as a way out of the current deadlock.
Hoskins says it will be up to doctors, including the dissidents who torpedoed the recent agreement, to show what the way forward is.
“The government wants Ontario's doctors to be and remain well-paid. That's why we suggested pay increases of 2.5 per cent a year over 10 years,” Hoskins said. “We've been told that's not enough. So what is?... Those on the other side will need to tell us what they consider a fair increase.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown called on Premier Kathleen Wynne to fire Hoskins in a press release Monday, calling the current negotiations “irretrievably flawed.”
Hoskins says, for the record, he won't be resigning. He also didn't suggest any kind of house-cleaning at the OMA, despite the appearance of a leadership that's lost the confidence of its membership.
“They were a good partner, and led to a fair agreement,” Hoskins said. “We have no reason to be any less confident in the leadership.”
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