Eye care in Ontario is at risk

For over 30 years successive provincial governments have ignored Ontario optometrists.  In 1989 the fee paid for an OHIP insured eye exam was $39.15; today, over 32 years later, it is on average $44.65. This has not kept up with inflation and does not come close to covering the cost (including rent, staff, utilities, equipment, taxes and supplies) to provide an eye exam.  Every time we perform an OHIP insured eye exam we do so at a loss. This is not sustainable.

How does this affect you?

Effective September 1, 2021 optometrists across Ontario have withdrawn from providing OHIP-covered eye care services in response to the provincial government’s unwillingness to address chronic underfunding of eye care services.  Government legislation prevents us from accepting any other form of payment for a patient who is covered by OHIP.  This includes anyone age 65+, 19 and under, or those with specified eye or systemic health concerns such as diabetes, cataracts, and glaucoma.  

What will it take to end this action?

Our ask is reasonable.  We want the government to commit to two things:

  1.  Optometrists should not have to subsidize the cost of an eye examination
  2. The government must agree to ongoing, legally binding negotiations as they do with all other health care providers such as family doctors and nurses

Wait, what about the government’s offer?

You may have read that the government offered an 8.48% increase on fees.  That sounds great, right?  Unfortunately not.  That increases average reimbursement from $45 to $48 – still leaving the optometrist covering $32 out of pocket for each eye examination.

What about their one-time, retroactive payment offer of $39 million? Over 37 million OHIP eye exams were performed in the last decade, so the government’s one-time payment works out to about a $1 increase per eye exam. And it still doesn’t address the future of eye care in Ontario!  We want to look forward, not backwards.

This offer is like throwing a bucket of water over a house fire. We need their commitment to a long-term, sustainable solution that brings Ontario up to par with other provinces in Canada for the same services. 

Can’t I just pay for my eye examination?

Unfortunately no.  Provincial law prevents anyone from paying for a service that is covered by OHIP, even if you have private insurance.

How can I help?

We ask you to visit SaveEyeCare.ca to learn more.  We also request that you contact your MPP, Minister of Health, and Premier about this important issue.  Personalized emails and phone calls are the most effective way to let them know that this important issue needs to be addressed. The following contact information is below: