Optometrists say wait is too long as contract talks stall

“It is up to the Ontario Optometric Association to put our patients first and negotiate a fair contract that protects both of our organizations’ interests. These blind negotiations mean that patients are not getting what they expect, and optometrists are losing the opportunity to provide the care they offer their patients.”

“Optometrists work hard to provide safe, quality and convenient care to Ontarians. Optometrists regularly conduct tests and exams on many people as well as offer consultations on topics such as reading, reading glasses, contacts, eye health, and vision health. Optometrists play a critical role in our province’s health care system. Optometrists believe in the value of having a professional on-site in clinics providing timely and appropriate services. We believe in caring for Ontarians.”

For the last three years, the Ontario Optometric Association (OOA) has been in a protracted, silent contract dispute with OPSEU Optometric Society (OPSEU), which represents optometrists working as members of the Ontario College of Optometrists. Optometrists in Ontario receive all necessary OSHA standards, laws and regulations as well as minimum educational and training requirements required by both the college and the College Act, which forces OOA members to practice under those laws.

While OPSEU has expressed that it is ready to negotiate and was hopeful for a mutually beneficial deal, Optometrists have maintained that it was not OPSEU’s bargaining position that was holding up a deal, but rather OOA’s positions that were “ambiguous” and “compromised” on significant items. As Optometrists are the only licensed health professionals in Ontario who are not represented by either of these professionals’ unions, OOA has been unable to publicly negotiate the terms of this agreement as it has been forbidden to do. The result has been a lack of transparency, not clear information and numerous missed opportunities for Optometrists and OPSEU to work out a deal.

This has put Ontario patients — both in clinics and out in the community — in an undesirable situation with no answers as to when they will receive the services they have come to expect from optometrists. While OPSEU indicated earlier this month that it is ready to bargain, the status quo has lasted too long. Over the past few months, OPSEU has encouraged Ontario optometrists to demonstrate that they can stand up for their interests, not just those of OPSEU, and deliver the care they are paid to deliver. Optometrists are proud of their professionalism and love the work they do. This could not be further from the feeling being communicated by the OOA, which continues to stall bargaining on many important issues. We believe the time is now for optometrists and OPSEU to collaborate on resolving this issue quickly and ensuring patients can have safe and quality care.

— HEATHER HUSEN, DANIELLE ASNER, VALERIE RODRIGUEZ, GEOFF RYAN AND DEBORAH HARRIS

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