Ontario willing to discuss optometrist costs, but won’t write blank cheque: minister


TORONTO — Ontario’s health minister says the province is willing to discuss optometrists’ operating costs, but will not write them “a blank cheque.”

Optometrists across the province withdrew provincially insured eye services, including eye exams for children and seniors, more than a month ago in a funding dispute with the government.

The optometrists say the province has been underfunding those services, leaving them paying around 45 per cent of those services out of pocket.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says the government is prepared to pay $39 million in retroactive costs and increase reimbursement by 8.48 per cent going forward.

She says Ontario would agree to talk about optometrists’ overhead costs, but they have to return to mediation.

The optometrists, who are set to hold a rally at the legislature today, say they are waiting for the government to return to the table and resume negotiations.