GOVERNMENT RELATIONS WORK PLAN FOR THE YEAR 2020
Our first priority is to protect and enhance the reputation of the Ontario Association of Medical Radiation Sciences (OAMRS) in the eyes of politicians and public servants. We know that political parties understand that we will disagree with them from time to time; we speak out on the issues that concern our members, and politicians are fine with that. However, politicians – like anyone else – do have a problem with people who question their honesty or their character. That is why we must, in a non-partisan way, focus on the issues.
We have been – and continue to be – a trusted source of information and ideas. We are the only voice at Queen's Park speaking up on behalf of Medical Radiation Technologists and Sonographers. Though small in number, we use our hard-won reputation to amplify our influence.
We will continue to research the government's needs and goals so we can join the discussion early; this often makes the difference between success or failure.
In addition to our Queen's Park activity in the form of meetings, phone calls, and informal conversations, we are hosting a luncheon lobby day at Queen’s Park for Members of Provincial Parliament on March 23. Therefore, the month of March and part of April will be dominated by luncheon preparations and follow up. OAMRS Members: Look for a call out in January to recruit interested members in attending the lobby day on March 23rd.
As we begin 2020, there are three priority issues:
- The Oversight of Medical Facilities and Devices Act has been passed by the Legislature but, prior to it becoming law, detailed regulations must be written. A report with options on how to proceed was sent to the Minister’s office some time ago, and we are urging Ms. Elliott to consider the report and make a decision. The Act is a long-overdue replacement for the HARP Act. In addition to containing measures to protect the public from unnecessary exposure to radiation, it specifies who can operate and prescribe DI tests, who can be the radiation protection officer, quality control for equipment and education requirements. The new legislation would also add non-ionizing forms of radiation such as MRI and Ultrasound. This, in turn, will lead to better job security for those involved; in addition to quality improvement and public protection.
- The Allied Health Professional Development Fund (AHPDF), which helps subsidize education for non-nursing health professionals, was set to be cancelled. In the spring of this year, the Ministry announced that they had cut funding retroactively. OAMRS met with the Minister's staff and demanded that the funding be reinstated. Pharmacists sent a letter of protest, but we were the only group to get into the Minister’s office to talk – and the money was reinstated for the current year. We are working with the Ministry and our Allied Health Profession colleagues to understand the fate of the fund beyond 2020 and if it is to be cancelled, how will the government continue to support MRTs and Sonographers. We also continue to lobby for Sonographers to be included in this fund or whatever fund it may be replaced with long-term.
- Reform of the self-regulated health professions is expected during 2020. This would be a major shakeup in the regulation of health professionals in Ontario. The Province of British Columbia offers us a clue to what is planned as both provinces are working with an international expert on professional regulations. A committee of the BC Legislature is recommending reducing the number of regulatory colleges in B.C. from 20 to five; revamping the makeup of college boards; making the complaint process more transparent, and creating a new oversight body that would perform routine audits. If these proposals become a reality, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia, and the British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals would be maintained, while the dental professions would be grouped under a new college of oral health, with the remaining health and care professions grouped into one other college. A plan has been presented to the Minister's advisers that looks very similar to the BC announcement, and the advisers have asked for other options before asking the Minister to decide. We are monitoring developments before deciding on action.
All the best in the New Year!
President & CEO