December 2018

Policy and Advocacy Updates

Reinstated Ability for Employers to Require Sick Notes from their Employees

Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018

On October 23, 2018, the Ontario government introduced Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, which is now law as of November 21, 2018. What this means for you is that beginning January 1, 2019, employers once again have the right to request a medical note from their employees to substantiate a brief, illness-related absence from work. The intention of this policy is to promote employee accountability while helping small businesses to manage schedules and decrease unexpected costs.

We recognize the added administrative burden this places on family physicians. As well, patients requesting sick notes for minor illnesses increases the risk of individuals infecting others in patient waiting rooms or on public transportation – all when the doctor’s order would be to stay home, rest and recover.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has urged the Ontario government not to reinstate sick notes for short-term illnesses – you can view their statement here. We welcome any questions or concerns you may have about the impact of this new legislation on your practice. Please contact us at ocfp@ocfp.on.ca.


2018 Economic Outlook and Fiscal review

Tax changes for physicians with incorporated practices

On November 15, 2018, the government presented its 2018 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review (fall economic statement).

Of note, Ontario has chosen not to proceed with the previous government’s tax measure – which paralleled the federal measure – to limit the small business deduction for corporations pertaining to passive income.

How does this impact physicians with incorporated practices?

Being incorporated means that a designated portion of your practice income is usually taxed at the small business tax rate. Typically, physicians with incorporated practices retain income in their corporate accounts which generates passive income such as interest, dividends and capital gains.

With Ontario now not proceeding with the previous tax proposal on passive income, physicians with incorporated practices could realize savings. Consult with your bookkeeper or accountant to learn more about these tax changes.


Fitness to Drive: New Medical Reporting Requirements

Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, section 203(1), and Ontario Regulation 340/94

Starting July 1, 2018, physicians have been required to report every person 16 years and older who, in the physician’s opinion, has or appears to have a prescribed medical condition, functional disability, or visual impairment to the Ministry of Transportation. As was the case with the legislation it replaced, the requirement to report pertains to both drivers/license holders and non-drivers/non-license holders.

Since the revised legislation was introduced, concerns have been raised by physicians regarding the interpretation of the psychiatric conditions listed, as well as the form itself. It is anticipated that the terminology used and the submission form itself will be revisited and modified by the Ministry of Transportation to provide greater clarity to physicians. The OCFP looks forward to contributing to this process, supporting the Ontario Medical Association in in their efforts to shape needed revisions.

On its website, the Ministry of Transportation provides a summary of the revised medical reporting requirements and how the ministry determines licence status. There you will also find the Medical Condition Report Form and How to Complete the Medical Condition Report Form. Visit the Ministry of Transportation website for more information.

If you have feedback on this legislation, its requirements or the related the form, please contact the OCFP directly (ocfp@ocfp.on.ca) to ensure that your perspective informs any forthcoming changes. In turn, we will keep you up-to-date as new information becomes available.


OCFP Advocacy Snapshot

Members have asked the OCFP to increase our advocacy efforts to further champion the role of family physicians in healthcare and lead much-needed health system changes – and for good reason.

It is well documented that a robust primary care sector, anchored by family physicians, supports stronger front-line care and a better patient experience, while creating efficiencies in the system. Despite this evidence, the family physician role is shifting and, at times, is not being valued as the bedrock of a well-functioning health system. With the emergence of a new policy agenda in Ontario, re-asserting the family doctor’s vital role in our health system is paramount.

Since the election in June 2018, below is a snapshot of key OCFP activities to date which focus on reinforcing our members’ pivotal role in care delivery and in leading health reform, and priorities in primary care:

  • Held a stakeholder symposium at the end of September – the start of a series of conversations that will identify how family medicine can advance health reform for the citizens of Ontario; the event included remarks from Dr. Rueben Devlin, Special Advisor and Chair of the Premier’s Council on Improving Health Care and Ending Hallway Medicine, and Andre Picard as guests;
  • Met with Deputy Minister Helen Angus and Associate Deputy Minister Melanie Fraser, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, at the OCFP Board of Directors meeting in mid-November;
  • And in late November, the OCFP’s Board President, Dr. Jennifer Young, Past President, Dr. Glenn Brown, and the OCFP’s CEO, Leanne Clarke met with the Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Christine Elliott.

Ultimately, our focus is on ensuring that the voice of the family physician informs upcoming changes to Ontario’s healthcare landscape. The OCFP is working very closely with the OMA’s Section on General and Family Practice and the Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario to bring a strong and unified voice to issues impacting family medicine.

Your input is essential. How can the OCFP best advocate for the issues that matter most to you in your practice? Share your perspectives here: ocfp@ocfp.on.ca