Ontario eye care providers are about to experience a wage freeze. The province plans to use the savings to invest in family and community health care.

The Ontario government expects to see a savings of more than $338.3 million from 2012 to 2013 as a result of the cuts, according to an announcement made by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MHLTC) on May 7.

Patients will get better, frontline patient care including more community care nurses, expanded home care services for at least 90,000 seniors, and 1,100 more doctors as the province updates fees paid to physicians for services under the $11 billion Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).

Among the changes will be a fee reduction for the time taken to perform eye injections for retinal diseases.

Presently it takes takes five to 30 minutes, down from two hours a decade ago. The fee paid to doctors for this service will be reduced from $189 to $90 over four-years.

Additionally new technology has reduced the time needed to perform cataract surgery from two hours to as little as 15 minutes.

Fees paid to doctors for this procedure will be reduced from $441 to $397.75.

“Our doctors are the best paid in Canada,” said Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Deb Matthews. “Instead of another raise for doctors, we need a real wage freeze so we can invest in more home care.”

Best practices demonstrate that doctors are now often able to work more quickly and more effectively yet many fees have not changed to reflect these advances.

Ontario doctors average $385,000 in annual billing fees. This is 75 per cent more than in 2003 and ten times what the average Ontarian earns.

Many specialists bill twice that amount and over 400 Ontario doctors now earn more than $1 million a year.

The province spends $88 million on self-referrals, the practice of referring a patient back to a doctor for additional procedures.

“To hold the line on doctor pay, we’re making changes to fees for physician services to reflect advances in technology and the latest medical evidence on what helps patients most,” said Matthews.

To learn more visit the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care website http://www.health.gov.on.ca/.