LONDON – MPP Peggy Sattler (London West) has sent a letter to the Minister of Health urging the government to return the table with Ontario's optometrists immediately. London West seniors, children, and other vulnerable residents are being hurt by the inability to access OHIP-funded eye care.
Read the full letter:
Dear Minister Elliott,
In my letter of August 26, 2021 I called on you to negotiate without delay to save OHIP-funded eye care in Ontario. I am writing again today on behalf of the many London West constituents who are suffering as a result of the September 1 withdrawal of optometry services, to urge you in the strongest possible terms to return to the table now. All Ontarians deserve to have access to vital eye care services, and optometrists in this province deserve to be fairly compensated for the quality eye care services they provide.
As a result of your government’s inaction, seniors with complex vision needs due to age-related decline are anxious, frustrated and angry. They feel abandoned and betrayed by your failure to achieve a resolution and have asked me how the government can turn its back on people over age 65. I heard from a senior who broke his glasses; he cannot get new glasses because his previous prescription is more than two years old, and he is now unable to drive or perform many other daily activities. Another senior worries that her vision will deteriorate without regular eye exams, after she was diagnosed a year ago with signs of macular degeneration.
As you know, Minister, it is not only seniors who are affected; children and people with chronic conditions have also been put at risk. A constituent who has been living with type one diabetes for 54 years stressed the critical importance of regular eye appointments to avoid the deadly complications of diabetes. A single mom told me she has a congenital cataract, which requires regular monitoring to prevent further damage to her vision. Her 7-year old son has been in the care of an optometrist since he was 6 months old, and is unable to get the prescription for his glasses updated. Her 4-year old is starting school, the time when many children’s vision problems are first detected, and she worries that the loss of eye care services will affect his learning and development.
Without access to eye care services for the prevention and treatment of eye diseases and vision loss, more people in London and across the province will be forced to rely on costly emergency room care, or develop serious complications that could not only compromise their health, well-being and independence, but will also impose a greater financial burden on the healthcare system.
Minister, I implore you to act immediately to restore Ontarians’ access to OHIP-funded eye care services by engaging in good faith discussions with Ontario optometrists about a sustainable funding agreement. Vision care services must be available for all Ontarians without any further disruption. This cannot wait any longer. Children, seniors and vulnerable Ontarians are being hurt.
Peggy Sattler, MPP London West