Historically fees for medical services in Ontario were increased in an "across-the-board" fashion, with an equal percentage increase applied to all services. Since mental health services have been undervalued compared to other medical services for decades, these across-the-board percentage increases magnified existing disparities year after year (since the same percentage applied to higher fees results in higher resources being diverted to the already highest fees). This only served to increase the absolute disparities between undervalued psychiatric services and other medical services, fueling recruitment and retention challenges and risking service gaps.
Dr. Gaind was instrumental in changing this policy that magnified disparities. At the November 2001 OMA General Council meeting, after effective lobbying and advocacy, he successfully passed the precedent setting motion that changed OMA policy away from traditional across-the-board increases towards more equitable distribution of resources. Combined with ongoing extensive submissions and advocacy for improved relativity, this pivotal motion paved the way for eventual sea change towards more equitable resource distribution in Ontario, including the 2008 OMA/Ministry of Health agreement, the only agreement that has ever allocated 50% of new resources towards correcting relativity inequities.
In early 2007, another pivotal issue regarding disparities of resource allocation arose. The otherwise innovative model of Family Health Teams (FHTs) implemented by the OMA and Ministry of Health unfortunately embedded existing inequities into their new time-based model, with psychiatric services, pediatric services and geriatric services all receiving 34% less funding for identical time compared to other medical services.
Dr. Gaind recognized that such overt devaluing of mental health services, made transparently obvious in a time-based model, reflected a devaluation of mental illness, the mentally ill, and mental health providers, and that it would inevitably lead to service gaps over time. Beyond realizing the importance of challenging the disparities in this new time-based model, he also saw the unique opportunity for achieving not only improved relativity, but parity for mental health services for the first time.
Effective advocacy through to the national level over several years led to remarkable success in correcting the FHT model. Dr. Gaind was successful at reversing OMA policy 180 degrees (initially the OMA supported the 34% disparity), so that by November 2007 official OMA policy supported parity for these services; subsequently for several years the disparity was reduced by 50% (to a 17% disparity); and as of January 2014 there is full parity for all services (including mental health/psychiatric services) in the FHT model.
Fast forward to 2018…while relativity still has not been solved, there is widespread recognition that it can no longer be ignored. Dr. Gaind was appointed to the new OMA Relativity Advisory Committee (RAC), and as co-chair of RAC helped produce the first ever relativity plan with a Success Metric and Implementation Plan (a first in Canada), that was overwhelmingly adopted by OMA Council (80% plus mandate) at it’s fall 2018 Special Meeting on Relativity. As of January 2019, when the RAC shifted to a single Chair model, Dr. Gaind was elected by his RAC colleagues as RAC Chair.
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