Statement on behalf of Dr. Sheldon Salaba, President of the Ontario Association of Optometrists

In late August 2021, Minister Elliott announced that she would make a “one-time payment” of $39 million directly to optometrists. This payment was not negotiated with the OAO and the announcement came as negotiations for a new compensation agreement were reaching a standstill. Further, the Ministry made the announcement with no notice to the OAO, delivered it directly to optometrists across Ontario, and widely publicized it in the media. Unilateral conduct of this nature is typically unlawful in labour negotiations and is a demonstration of the bad faith bargaining we’ve become accustomed to with this government. The announcement and payment are a blatant negotiation tactic that further demonstrates this government’s lack of interest in finding a real long-term solution to this crisis.

On behalf of the OAO, Ontario optometrists do not offer their consent for this government to deposit a retroactive payment into our accounts until a fair deal is reached. As of today, over 2100 optometrists have written Minister Elliott urging her to keep this money and commit to working out a deal where we will no longer receive the lowest compensation for an eye exam in all of Canada.

This government’s continued neglect only impacts our most vulnerable community members: seniors, children and those with existing eye conditions. It’s been nearly one-month of further radio silence from Minister Elliott and Premier Ford but Ontario optometrists are committed to defending access to publicly-funded healthcare for our patients and we won’t stop until our most vulnerable receive what they deserve.”

– Dr. Sheldon Salaba, President of the Ontario Association of Optometrists.

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