In 1980, the first organized meeting, led by Dr. Marv Tile and Dr. Joe Schatzker, was held at the old Toronto Academy of Medicine and involved approximately 50 surgeons. The group felt the OMA did not listen to the concerns of orthopaedic surgeons and the OOA was formed. At first the AGM was held at the same time as the annual Rehabilitation Symposium, and eventually transformed into the annual OOA meeting.
At one point, the surgeons considered “separating” from the OMA and becoming a separate organization that dealt with the Minister of Health and other organizations on its own. However, it was ultimately decided that the OOA should be a parallel organization to the OMA. It would be the most important body to unite surgeons from across the province and a way to bring forward issues that concern all Ontario orthopaedic surgeons. The Orthopaedic section leader at the OMA would continue to represent surgeons at OMA meetings.
In 1986, the government introduced the Health Care Accessibility Act (Bill 94) which eliminated private billing by physicians, a common practice among orthopaedic surgeons in the province. At the time, this was very unpopular with all physicians but the physician group was unable to overcome this dramatic change to physician payment.
By the late 1980s, Dr. Ted Rumble took over as the OOA president and really galvanized surgeons in the province with a restructuring of the Association -- essentially forming the current Association structure. In his early presidency, he proposed two discussion papers: “The Ontario Orthopaedic Association: Purpose, Structure and Function” and “The Ontario Orthopaedic Association: Challenges for the Future”. Under the leadership of Dr. Rumble and several other presidents, our Association has matured significantly.
The representation of surgeons at the OMA continued to be important during times of government negotiations. For example, the billings of surgical specialists for post-op care (unbundling surgical codes for 3 months and allowing followup visit fees) was lead by the orthopaedic group in the late 1980s.
The OOA continued to prosper under great leadership but once again found government/ physician relationships strained. Under the leadership of Dr. Robin Richards, the OOA found the new government stronghanding physicians and stood up for our rights in the province, often leading the other specialists. Many paper headlines covered the topic of imminent job action, including headlines such as “Bone Surgeons Vote could kill OMA agreement”. The Minister of Health did eventually step down for his handling of the physicians and eventually a deal was reached.
The OOA has continued to represent orthopaedic surgeons in the province on many issues.
With presidents Peter Schuringa, Steve Gallay and Tracy Wilson, the OOA has dealt with many issues at the OMA, CPSO, Royal College, CMA and other bodies. During this time period, the CPSO policy on “Blood Borne Pathogens” was developed with a lot of input opposing some of the policy statements from the surgical groups, but the OOA was the lead. An annual meeting in Toronto in late October has now become a standard for surgeons in the province. During this period, the meeting took place regularly at the Prince Westin Hotel.
The OOA now operates with a board of 13 members. These 13 members come from around the province and represent surgeons in the province. The Association’s board meets regularly to discuss provincial issues. The OOA has a yearly AGM in Toronto, held in the Fall (early November). The AGM program is usually designed to cover topics that relate to all orthopaedic subspecialties. The AGM host is currently chosen on a rotating schedule between the 6 academic training programs in the province but the content is chosen to appeal to all surgeons.
Over the past two years, the OOA continues to be active on many issues. This includes remuneration, relativity, access to care, job opportunities, work force issues, patient advocacy, and any issues related to musculoskeletal care in the province.
The board members and orthopaedic surgeons in the province are encouraged to be active at the OMA, as most of the interaction with the Ministry of Health currently occurs through our OMA. We currently have 6 orthopaedic surgeons that are now OMA council members and we have orthopaedic surgeons sitting on OMA committees that affect our specialty.