TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - June 4, 2013) - More than 400 OHIP Physiotherapists descended on Queen's Park today to protest spending cuts that would result in far fewer physiotherapy treatments for the province's most vulnerable seniors.

"Without consultation with seniors, providers and caregivers, and with a deeply flawed view of what happens on the front-lines of care, the Ontario government has announced a drastic reduction in physiotherapy that will directly impact the health, mobility and dignity of seniors across the province," said Tony Melles, Executive Director of the Designated Physiotherapy Clinics' Association (DPCA). "Worse, the Minister tried to spin the announcement as an increase when in fact it is a major cut - this is simply unconscionable."

The DPCA represents the majority of the 94 OHIP clinics province-wide and 3,000 registered physiotherapists and staff.

Health Minister Deb Matthews has acknowledged publicly that last year's expenditure on OHIP physiotherapy in long-term care homes, in-home and clinic treatments was over $200 million. Yet in the government's announcement she claimed to be increasing the budget by committing to $136 million in physiotherapy spending and another $20 million on exercise classes.

The real impact of the cuts will be felt by the most frail elderly in the province. Seniors in long-term care will have access to only half of the care they receive today as the budget is slashed from $110 million last year to $58.5 million effective August 1, 2013.

Seniors receiving in-home treatments in keeping with the government's own Ageing At Home Strategy will see their access eliminated or they will rely on a Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) for service. The CCAC delivers physiotherapy at ten times the cost of current OHIP providers - an average of $120 per treatment compared to OHIP at $12.20 for the same service. There are also long wait lists for CCAC treatments and they typically are limited to 5-8 treatments in total per patient. Today a patient eligible for in-home treatment can receive up to 100 treatments from OHIP if a doctor deems it necessary.

"Premier Wynne talks a good talk about dialogue, consultation and conversation. But when it comes to affecting the lives of seniors there has been no conversation," added Melles. "We have a better solution. The people we care for and their families want a halt to the cuts and a real dialogue with government on how best to make change without hurting our most frail seniors."

Today's news conference featured testimonials from a front-line physiotherapist who was told by Minister Matthews she doesn't deliver "real" physiotherapy; the son of an elderly retirement home resident who is blind and suffers dementia who would have to seek treatment outside of her home, and an 81 year-old long-term care resident restored to health by physiotherapy.

Quotes from the News Conference:

"The cuts the government proposes are real. They will hurt seniors. They will drive up costs in ambulance transfers, ER visits and hospitalizations. They will cause undue stress on residents and their families. Why?" - Trish MacLeod, Physiotherapist in Long-term Care, London.

"Minister Matthews, Premier Wynne… someday you will be a senior too and you will need the services you have cut. What will you do then? You will realize the devastating effect of your decisions. Don't wait until then." - 81 year-old Donna Greaves, Long-term care resident.

"Sit down and work out a better solution. It doesn't need to be this way. If Minister Matthews wants me to 'bring it on' I will. I will not let this be the decision that ends my mother's quality of life in her last years." - Thomas Simpson, son and caregiver to a retirement home resident.

Contact Information:

Media Contact:
Sussex Strategy Group
Laura Fracassi