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Interview with Dr. Jeffrey Guthrie, New President of OAO – Part 2

Infoclip.ca recently interviewed the new President for this three part series about his vision of Optometry in Ontario and how the Association can best serve its members. Click here for part one of our three part interview.

Infoclip:  Which member programs do you think are the most valuable?

J.G.: The one that is really valuable for our members is our insurance program. For many years, we’ve provided a professional liablity insurance. A couple of years ago, we undertook a large review of that to ensure it really was the best professional liability insurance program in the country. Now I can confidently say that it definitely is, it provides the best protection out of any insurance plan for optometrists in Canada. New graduates can join the plan for $50 the first year. It covers Optometrists for College complaints and they have access to 24/7 legal advice. They can call us up and ask an attorney a question on any topic.

This year we’re going to be looking at the office comprehensive insurance plan. We’ve identified some gaps in coverage that a lot of members currently have and later on this year, we’ll be rolling that out.

Infoclip: Around 75% of potential OAO members are currently members of the Association. Does that number concern you? Are there plans to attract the remaining 25%?

J.G.: It’s definitely a concern. When we go to government or any other stakeholder, our credibility is partially based on the number or percentage of optometrists we represent. Whatever extent we can grow, that is definitely a good thing. The success of our work really does depend on it, both from a credibility standpoint and for having the resources to do the work. What we’re trying to do is demonstrate the value of being a member. We want to show potential members who have not signed up yet that they’re missing out on a lot of benefits and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be a member.

Infoclip: Do you know who non-members tend to be? Is there an age, gender or regional gap?

J.G.: When we look at who’s a member vs who’s not a member, it is largely younger graduates. In the past, most Optometrists in Ontario were graduates of the University of Waterloo. We now have a larger diversity in where our optometrists are coming from. It becomes a little harder to meet with them during their educational years. We’re planning to reach out to other institutions to meet people who are planning to come back to Ontario at an earlier age. It also comes back to building out a range of member benefits.

Infoclip: Is it a concern that the gender make-up of the board of directors of the OAO does not reflect the number of women Optometrists in the industry?

J.G.: It’s definitely a concern that we’ve had. Members take note, students take note when we go to speak to them. At this point in time, at least half the profession is female in Ontario, and I believe about 70% of new grads are female. If we’re going to truly reflect our membership, we’re going to have to do something about that. If that inspires more female Optometrists to run for the board, I think that would be very good.

 

In part 3, we ask about the state of relations with other Vision Care Stakeholders.

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