Over 32 years of successive Ontario government neglect and chronic underfunding of Optometric services has led to a crisis point today. Just over half of the overhead cost to deliver an eye examination is currently covered under OHIP reimbursement. In 1989, the fee for an OHIP insured eye exam was $39.15. Fast forward to 2021 and that number now sits at an average of $44.65, not anywhere close to covering three decades of inflation, cost of living increases, scope of care advances and rising clinic overhead costs (inclusive of staff, rent, utilities, supplies and highly specialized equipment).
With every OHIP eye examination provided, it is done so at a significant loss. This is obviously unsustainable and has begun to erode access to care for our seniors, children and those with eye diseases and disorders that need care the most. We are seeing it happen now. Which is why, as a collective group of over 96% of optometrists in Ontario, we have been forced to make the difficult choice to withdraw services to have our voice heard by our government.
In comparison to other provinces, Ontario optometrists are, by far, the lowest reimbursed in the country. Our fees would need to increase by over 70% to match the next lowest province of Manitoba and by 122.6% to reach Quebec – two other provinces that fully fund eye care within their provincial health plans. OHIP is the worst provincial eye care insurance in the country.
If you are a senior over 65 years, a child 19 and under or a patient with an OHIP covered eye condition and you have an appointment booked during service withdrawal we, unfortunately, will not be able to see you. A member of our team will contact you to reschedule your appointment and you will be prioritized for rebooking once job action is over.
Our request is very simple, very fair and very achievable. We are asking for the Ontario government to commit to a legally binding mechanism of negotiation with Optometry. And we are asking for cost recovery of OHIP insured eye examinations, or, in other words, to have OHIP fees cover the overhead cost of providing the service. You can help by going to www.saveeyecare.ca and join hundreds of thousands of Ontarians in letting their MPP know we need a government to prioritize and fund eye care to make it sustainable for many years to come.