Presented to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on November 3rd, 2021:
My office has received thousands of phone calls, emails and letters from concerned seniors, parents and social assistance recipients who are not receiving the eye care they desperately need. Parents are worried that their children cannot participate fully in class because they can’t see the board at the front of the classroom. Seniors have been forced to visit our emergency rooms to seek the vision care they desperately need. Eye care is critical health care, and it is important that all Ontarians have access to an optometrist when they need one.
I received an email from a concerned father whose 19-year-old daughter has been unable to book an appointment with her optometrist. Her vision has deteriorated so badly she can no longer drive herself to work or to buy groceries. I have also heard from a constituent that requires a yearly eye exam as he is diabetic. He says that his vision is now in jeopardy as he waits to see his doctor and have his prescription updated.
No one should have to go without health care in this province, and that includes vision care. Optometrists and their patients suffer from decades of chronic cuts to vision care. Optometrists have been forced to cover almost half of the cost of an appointment out of pocket because this government and the previous Liberal government have refused to properly fund OHIP-covered eye care.
Last week, Windsor city council sent a letter to the Minister of Health calling on her and the Conservative government to get back to the table and negotiate a fair agreement with the association of optometrists. I echo the call of Windsor city council and the thousands of individuals in my riding who contacted me about this important issue. It’s time for this government to say yes to eye care for all Ontarians and negotiate in good faith with optometrists in order to protect the vision of everyone in the province.