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'The Clock is ticking' warn Optometrists, who again threaten to stop OHIP-paid eye exams

Last Updated May 31, 2021 at 1:12 pm EDT

Ontario Optometrists want everyone to see that the clock is ticking on OHIP-covered eye exams.

Optometrists are renewing their threat to stop conducting OHIP-covered eye exams as of September 1 unless the provincial government agrees to formal talks to boost the amount of money it pays for the exams.

The Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) is also out with new digital ads Monday as it looks to inform the public of its position.

“The clock is ticking. Your eyecare will end on September 1” the ads warned.

OAO president Dr. Sheldon Salaba tells 680 NEWS that the government pays optometrists, on average, $44.65 for each exam, but the actual cost is more than $80

“The government is paying 50 per cent of the cost and the Optometrist is paying the other 50 per cent” Dr. Salaba says

He warns the government has until Sept. 1 to agree to formal negotiations to fund services to at the least cover the actual cost of subsidized eye exams.

“We want to work with Optometrist’s to come up with a solution that is going to benefit the people of Ontario as well as deal with their (OAO) concerns,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott.

Elliott says the Ford government continues to value the work of Optometrists.

“It is really important for everyone in Ontario. Our talks have been continuing throughout. We’ve never stopped the discussions,” Elliott continued.

“It may have slowed down a little bit because we are very busy with dealing with COVID. However, we take it very seriously, the concerns the Optometrists have. We know it has been some time since they’ve had an increase, and so we want to work with them to find a solution that’s going to be satisfactory to them and to the people of Ontario.”

Dr. Sheldon Salaba says the OAO last had a meeting with the health ministry officials at the beginning of December 2020.

“And we haven’t heard anything from them since. We’ve had multiple phone calls multiple emails and have pretty much been met with silence.”

He says he hopes the new ad campaign will highlight the plight of Optometrist.

“The people in government are well aware that this is coming but the public less so.”

“We’re providing over 4 million OHIO Insured examinations to Ontarians at an annual basis, that includes seniors over the age of 65, children under the age of 20, and adults with medical conditions like diabetes, macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.”

Salaba says as he called optometry the backbone of the eye health care system in the province.

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