The executive of the Ontario Medical Association has resigned, highlighting the infighting that has plagued Ontario doctors as they seek a new contract from the province.
"After careful consideration of the sentiment of the OMA's elected representative body, and discussion with the Board, the Executive Committee determined that it was in the best interest of the OMA for the Executive Committee to resign from their offices and from the Executive Committee, effective immediately," an OMA statement said Monday.
The move comes a week after a special meeting that saw a no-confidence vote shake the organization's executive committee, and another vote that came close to toppling the group's president.
At the meeting Jan. 29, a motion to remove OMA president Virginia Walley received support from half of the body's 260-member governing council, but failed to meet the two-thirds threshold needed to pass.
A no-confidence motion in the executive over all garnered 55-per-cent support.
Ontario doctors have been working without a contract for three years, and in August rejected a new fee agreement endorsed by the province and the OMA's leadership.
A rebellious faction within the group, Concerned Ontario Doctors, has attacked the departing executive for being weak in negotiations with the government and conducting secret discussions around the proposed contract.
In the statement, the OMA's board said that the resigning executive committee members would stay on the group's board of directors. "They have a wealth of experience and knowledge that would be a significant loss to us if they were to leave the Board. The Executive Committee is making this choice in the hope that this will help unify doctors and advance the interests of the profession at this critical juncture."
Even as Ontario doctors quarrel with each other, many remain staunchly opposed to a provincial government that has tried to keep health-care spending in check under Health Minister Eric Hoskins.
The province's most recent contract offer provided an annual 2.5-per-cent increase to Ontario's $11.5-billion physician-services budget, which some doctors criticized for failing to keep up with inflation and an aging population, calling it a de facto cut.
In announcing the departure of its executive, the OMA board urged members to maintain "a strong and united front against a government that is intransigent in its approach to health care and disrespectful of physicians."
With files from Jeff Gray