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Doctor may close clinic due to health-care cuts

THUNDER BAY -- A local doctor says he might have to close one of his clinics due to health-care cuts. Dr. David Probizanski has two clinics, a family practice and a walk-in, in Thunder Bay.
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Dr. David Probizanski (Thunder Bay Television)

THUNDER BAY -- A local doctor says he might have to close one of his clinics due to health-care cuts.

Dr. David Probizanski has two clinics, a family practice and a walk-in, in Thunder Bay. He recently wrote an open letter to Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle saying if compensation cuts continue, he'll have to close his family practice leaving two people unemployed and 4,000 patients without a doctor.

Unlike a salary, the province pays doctors by the services they offer.

While the government says it's increased that compensation by 1.25 per cent and more than 60 per cent over the past decade, that doesn't equate to any doctor being paid more. Physicians have overhead like staff and office space just like any other business and money to pay for that comes out of the doctor's compensation.

"That's not a salary that's a billing amount. That is our total gross income," he said.

The increase was also needed as costs for testing have gone up, the province's population ages and nearly 1,000 new doctors have started.

The province and the Ontario Medical Association have gone to a conciliator over the issue but haven't reached an agreement. In the meantime, Probizanksi said cumulative cuts to compensation have started.

"I think that's what we're all scared of because they haven't given us a guideline as to how many cuts are coming," he said.

It's to the point where Probizanski said he might not be able to afford having two clinics. Doctors have also started thinking about leaving the province altogether.

"I will go where I'm needed or at least appreciated. In Ontario right now I don't feel appreciated," he said.  

Gravelle said he's hoping it won't come to that.

"I'm hoping that's obviously not the case," he said.

But the province's offer to the OMA was a fair one. The province supports its physicians and all health-care workers but managing the system is always a challenge.

"I think the bottom line is the province has significant challenges, particularly in the health-care field," he said.