‘Ottawa’ Nearly Half of Ontarians Back Doctors in fee Dispute with Province Poll Suggests
Half of Ontarians are taking the side of doctors in their fee dispute with the province, according to a new public opinion poll.
In the new province-wide survey by Forum Research Inc., 49 per cent of respondents supported Ontario’s doctor in their fee dispute with the province, while about one in five, or 22 per cent, backed the government. More than a tenth (13 per cent) took neither side in the dispute and 17 per cent expressed no opinion.
Forum president Lorne Bozinoff said “it is not surprising” to see Ontarians backing their physicians.
“I think when people were answering what side they were on, they were thinking about their own family physician, which they probably have a good relationship with and like,” he said.
But despite this support, an equal number, 49 per cent, thought that the 500 doctors who billed the province a million dollars or more was “too much.” Meanwhile a quarter, or 27 per cent, believed it was “about the right amount” while 18 per cent said they “didn’t know.” Just six per cent called the amount “too little.”
Bozinoff reasoned that Ontarians probably don’t associate their family physicians with high billings, which could explain the difference in support.
“I don’t think (the respondents) think their family doctors are billing for a million dollars,” he said.
When it came to a $6-million bill from a single eye doctor, a majority of Ontarians — 68 per cent — deemed that amount as too much.
Regionally, supporting the province in the dispute was common to those in downtown Toronto (28 per cent). On the other side of the fence were respondents living in southwestern Ontario, 54 per cent of whom back the doctors.
Bozinoff said he believes “the doctors in the 416 (area code) are busier and may not be providing the same amount of attention to patients” compared to physicians working in other areas of Ontario.
The polling agency also found Ontarians support for doctors grew with age.
Supporting the doctors is especially characteristic of respondents who identified as Progressive Conservative (66 per cent), while supporting the province is more common among Liberals (34 per cent).
“Support for the government is really only coming from those who voted Liberal and that is a shrinking group these days,” said Bozinoff, adding the poll results reinforce the difficulty politicians face when pitting themselves against physicians.
The survey of 1,157 randomly selected Ontarian adults was conducted by interactive voice response. The results are considered accurate to within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Some data have been statistically weighted by age, region and other variables to ensure the sample reflects the actual population as reflected in the census data. Poll results are housed in the data library of the University of Toronto’s political science department.