Toronto, ON (February 13, 2018) - "I disapprove of what you say, but will defend
to the death your right to say it" is a foundational principle of democracy.
In November, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) drafted a Code of Conduct Policy
for its members that threatens to stymie criticism from doctors. None of the other
provincial/territorial associations have such a policy.
The OMA ignored a previous call to survey members prior to developing any such policy.
Its first iteration was not shared with doctors. Some guidelines for conduct included:
"Does it align with OMA values?… How will it reflect on the OMA and the profession?…
behaviour that is passive in expression, but aggressive or harmful in intent…" These
broad and vague principles leave an uncomfortable amount of room for interpretation
in the policy's application.
After Concerned Ontario Doctors, a grassroots organization with voluntary physician
membership, exposed the code of conduct, the OMA made some minor, cosmetic changes.
Nonetheless, the sinister intent and processes remain unchanged. Moreover, the OMA
plans to discipline its members through its CEO's office under a veil of secrecy
for any words (verbal, written, published, or social media comments) or actions
that it deems to be hurtful or false.
This policy contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The OMA exists for the
sole purpose of being the legal negotiating body for Ontario's doctors and to advocate
for their interests.
It has absolutely no mandate to police its members, who are compelled to join it
and pay dues. This role is already filled by the College of Physicians and Surgeons
of Ontario (CPSO), our legal regulatory body, in addition to the Hippocratic Oath
we all take and Canada's legal system with regard to slander and libel or criminal
In June, doctors gave up their right to strike and engage in job action – in perpetuity
– by ratifying a binding arbitration agreement with the Ontario government. But
the OMA and provincial Liberals wish to take this one step further and block public
criticism of them from physicians.
OMA President Dr. Shawn Whatley previously stated: "We're a democratic organization
and we want everyone to feel that they can express their opinion in whatever way
they want." Yet board directors and staff have reported dozens of its own members
to the CPSO for investigation, merely for expressing differing opinions. And now
the organization that supposedly represents doctors has a formal process through
their CEO's office to investigate members, which includes a "fact-finding" review.
Seventy-six percent of doctors say they do not trust the organization, according
to a recent survey. With their unearned moral superiority, how does the OMA have
the right to become judge and jury with a forced membership?
The OMA is a 138-year-old bureaucracy with an administrative staff of approximately
300. It is accountable to no one, and is a tool for the Ontario Liberal government,
which ensures the organization's survival through mandatory, legislated membership
dues of $54 million annually. The end of mandatory dues is supported by two-thirds
of Ontario physicians in two independent surveys.
Forced dues foster an environment where collaborators within the organization stand
to benefit at the expense of doctors and patient care.
Free speech is the right from which all other rights develop. With forced membership
and imposed muzzles, the OMA has revealed its Orwellian colours. The organization
is set to soon implement their draconian code of conduct policy. Doctors will effectively
be silenced from being advocates for their patients, profession, and Ontario's healthcare
system. Physicians deserve an organization that democratically represents them,
or at the very least, does not police them. Patients deserve doctors that can speak
out against bad government policies impacting the 14 million patients of Ontario
The OMA should dispense with a code of conduct entirely. Forcing any group of people
to toe the party line is unconstitutional and degrading to Canadian democracy.
Patients must speak out and defend their health care. Please sign our petition today:
Background: Concerned Ontario Doctors is a grassroots not-for-profit organization
of physicians across Ontario advocating for a patient-centered, sustainable, accessible
and quality healthcare system. We stand united in our belief that unilateral actions
by any government will undermine our ability to deliver timely and quality patient
care. More information can be found at www.CareNotCuts.ca,
Twitter: @OnCall4ON, Storify:
OnCall4ON, Instagram: OnCall4ON, and Facebook:
We Are Your Ontario Doctors.