Day of Action

Table of Contents

Day of Action 2024 – Mental Health Care Access

TORONTO, ON – The Ontario Medical Students Association (OMSA) will host its annual Provincial Day of Action (DoA) from April 20th to 22nd, 2024. This year’s DoA will focus on “Mental Health Care Access” as its central theme and bring together medical students from across the province to advocate for essential reforms in mental health care. The OMSA DoA, held at Queen’s Park in Toronto, provides a platform for students to engage directly with Members of Provincial Parliament and discuss policy changes that address the urgent needs of our healthcare system.

Ontario’s mental health system is in need of reform, with more than one million residents requiring mental health or addiction care each year. Despite this demand, the system is plagued by long wait times, lack of access to affordable care, disconnection across different settings and significant geographical disparities in care and access, particularly in rural and Northern Ontario. The situation is further compounded for racialized, Indigenous, and other marginalized populations who face additional barriers in accessing culturally sensitive, trauma-informed and decolonized care. As a result of these barriers, there has been an increasing utilization of the Emergency Department for mental health and addictions care, with a ~47% increase between 2009 to 2017. Significantly, for the 10-21 year old age group, there was a ~90% increase in the rate of ED visits between 2009-2017.

The current policy landscape has seen advancements with Ontario’s “Roadmap to Wellness” plan, which aims to reform and build a mental health and addictions system for the Province. However, significant gaps remain and there is a critical need to accelerate efforts and ensure that the mental health care system is responsive, accessible, and inclusive.

To address these challenges, OMSA proposes the following four asks to the Provincial Government:

  1. Expand the Ontario Structured Psychotherapy Program (OSP) to reduce wait times, and to allow children/youth to access in person or virtual therapy. Use performance measurement to facilitate quality improvement.
  2. Enable children and youth to access care within 30 days by strengthening the capacity of community based programs and continuing to invest in school based mental health care.
  3. Create greater integration across different settings and providers by approving additional Ontario Health Teams, developing data sharing and incentivizing provision of mental health care within primary care settings.
  4. Improve service quality and access for Rural and Northern communities by continuing to invest in mobile clinics, increasing recruitment/retention of mental health professionals and expanding coverage of virtual care to include allied health providers.

The OMSA believes that these measures are crucial for tackling Ontario’s mental health crisis. By advocating for these changes, we aim to create a more accessible, equitable, and effective mental health care system for all Ontarians.

For more information, please refer to the Backgrounder and our One Page Summary.

Day of Action 2023 – Housing and Homelessness

TORONTO, ON – The Ontario Medical Students Association (OMSA) is proud to announce its annual Provincial Day of Action (DoA) 2023. This is a hybrid event bringing together medical students from across the province to advocate for the Housing and Homelessness Crisis from April 24th to 28th, 2023. Every year, Ontario medical students convene in Toronto to meet with Members of Provincial Parliament – many of whom are also Ministers of various policy areas – at Queen’s Park . 

Housing and homelessness are major social concerns in the province of Ontario, and have become especially prominent in recent years. The 2016 ONPHA waiting lists survey reported that 171,360 households were on social housing waiting lists in Ontario as of the end of December 2015. According to a statement released by the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario in 2021, approximately 16,000 Ontarians are unhoused on any given night. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further exacerbated this issue, causing a 10% increase in outdoor encampment sites and 90% decrease in shelter services due to outbreaks within shelter programs and constrained indoor capacity. It is also critical to bear in mind that the relationships between homelessness and health are intrinsic, complex and bi-directional, and that housing status invariably impacts health outcomes. Overall, these statistics highlight the urgent demand for creating new interventions to address the ever growing housing and homelessness crisis. 

Previous legislation that has attempted to manage the homelessness crisis includes the Ontario Safe Streets Act, which sought to criminalize homelessness. This counterproductive approach has been ineffective in targeting the root causes of the issue, while simultaneously increasing stigma and financial burden on those affected. Other legislation including Canada’s National Housing Strategy and Reaching Home have been insufficient in tackling the true magnitude of the issue. Recently, Bill 23 (More Homes Built Faster) was passed to streamline and amend various existing provincial laws to build 1.5 million homes in the next 10 years; however, it has been met with harsh criticism due to its negative impacts on affordable housing development. 

Thus, the OMSA proposes four key asks to the Provincial Government to address the housing and homelessness crisis in Ontario in order to improve the health of afflicted populations:

  1. Increase the amount of funding allocated to Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) by an additional 100%. 

  2. Amend Bill 23 to take into consideration the concerns of municipalities regarding local decision-making when it comes to housing-related bylaws and affordable housing development. Additionally, clearer definitions of “affordable” are crucial to this discussion.

  3. Mandate an annual provincial report tracking the number of unhoused individuals in Ontario, in addition to a bi-annual report on the provincial prevalence and cause of death for those with no fixed address.

  4. Increase funding for Alternative Payment Plans (APP) with a goal of having APPs in place for all municipalities with populations greater than 200,000 by 2026.

OMSA hopes that this work serves as a catalyst for the implementation of comprehensive policies and programs that prioritize affordable housing and support services for individuals experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, such that they are able to access safe and stable housing, as well as medical and social support, without fear of discrimination or marginalization.




Day of Action 2022 – Improvements to Long-Term Care

The Day of Action (previously Lobby Day) gives Ontario medical students the opportunity to meet with Members of Provincial Parliament at Queen’s Park to advocate on a specific topic related to health policy. In recent years, we’ve advocated for improved access to mental health care, solutions combating the rise in unmatched medical graduates, and avoiding cuts to public health funding; work on these issues are ongoing. The topic for the 2022 Day of Action was the long-term care crisis in Ontario.

Delegates registered for DoA 2022 had the chance to participate in a two-day training weekend followed by virtual meetings with MPPs. The training weekend featured keynotes from guest speakers, a stakeholder panel, advocacy workshops, and a mock MPP activity to prepare you for the MPP meetings.



Day of Action 2020 Highlights – Public Health Funding

This virtual Day of Action tackled the issue of Public Health Structure and Funding in Ontario. Delegates met with MPPs in November 2020 to advocate for three main asks: a public health funding model that takes inflation and population changes into account, crucial updates to the provincial health information system, and the incorporation of local stakeholder voices when making public health decisions.

For more information, please refer to the Backgrounder and our One Page Summary.

Lobby Day 2019 Highlights – Physician Services Planning

On April 8th, 2019, 60 medical students from all six Ontario medical schools met with MPPs in the 42nd Ontario Legislature, the first time since the 2018 provincial election. Continuing our theme from Lobby Day 2018, delegates advocated for improved physician services planning with two key asks: an increased ratio of residency spots to medical graduates (currently at historic lows) and more transparency in the decision-making of physician services planning.

For more information, please refer to the Backgrounder and our One Page Summary.

Lobby Day 2018 Highlights – Physician Services Planning

In their final year of medical school, students apply for residency positions in a process known as “the match”. Historically, 10 to 20 graduates in Canada have gone unmatched each year. However, that number has risen dramatically since 2011, rising to 46 in 2016 and 68 in 2017 and is projected to reach 141 in 2021. This year, medical students in Ontario overwhelmingly voted for OMSA to advocate for improved physician services planning for our annual Lobby Day on April 9th, 2018. OMSA engaged over 60 medical students from across Ontario in our advocacy. Medical students implore the Government of Ontario to create a physician workforce that meets Ontario’s needs, is transparent in its physician services planning to enable medical students’ informed decision-making, and that ensures an adequate number of residency spots for every single Ontario medical graduate.

For more information, please refer to the Backgrounder and the One Page Summary of our ask.

Lobby Day 2017 Highlights – Access to Mental Health Care

The 2017 OMSA Lobby Day was held from April 1st to 3rd, 2017. 60 students from each of Ontario’s six medical schools congregated in Toronto to receive training in leadership skills and advocacy training on April 1st and 2nd. With these skills, delegates then met with Ministers and MPPs from ridings across Ontario on April 3rd to discuss issue of improving access to mental health care. The lobby day topic was selected through a province-wide survey of medical students.

Mental illness affects 1 in 5 Canadians and in Ontario, its burden exceeds that of cancer. Yet, our mental health services are fragmented and lacks standards to guide its improvement. Our asks were to: (1) set standards and monitor wait times for children/youth accessing mental health care, and (2) improve the transition of mental health care between adolescents and adults. We asked each MPP to solicit their constituents’ concerns on these critical issues by: (1) hosting a town hall or online public consultation, and/or (2) publishing an open call for letters with regards to constituents’ experiences with wait times, transitions, and the overall quality of their experience with the children and youth mental health system.

For more information, please refer to the Backgrounder and the One Page Summary of our ask.

Lobby Day 2016 Highlights – Seniors Access to Long-Term Care

The 2016 Leadership Summit and Lobby Day was held from April 9th to 11th, 2016. 60 delegates from Ontario medical schools received training in leadership skills and advocacy training. With these skills, delegates met with MPPs at Queen’s Park on April 11, 2016 to advocate for seniors access to long-term care. Check out the video below for the highlights of the weekend.

For more information, please refer to the Backgrounder and the One Page Summary of our ask.


Lobby Day 2015 Highlights – TBD


Lobby Day 2014 Highlights – Improving Health Human Resource Planning

This year’s Provincial Lobby Day took place on April 13th, 2014. Over 40 medical student delegates descended onto Queen’s Park to meet members of our provincial political parties, as well as speak to MPPs. The topic of discourse this year is a continuation of the past years’ efforts to ensure the Ontario healthcare system focuses on long-term solutions in healthcare human resources. As the health needs of Ontario citizens vary by specific location and generations of new medical graduates are trying to serve these populations, a provincial wide resource to match the right physicians to the right locations will benefit everyone. 

As the next generation of physicians, we are asking the government to continue to make progress on matching the needs of Ontario’s health care system with improved access to relevant and timely information around employment opportunities. This can be done by developing a database on the Health Force Ontario website that compiles available information on health care shortages by specialty and geographic location and also projects future health care needs by speciality and geographic location.

Lobby Day 2013 Highlights – Collaboration in Health Human Resource Planning

Ontario Medical students went to Queen’s Park on April 7th, 2013 for their Provincial Lobby Day.  This year’s ask focused on ensuring Ontario’s healthcare system places the right people in the right locations to meet the health needs of Ontario.  This ask addresses the mismatch between new graduates and job opportunities in various specialties.  

Specifically, we have requested that Health Force Ontario, an office within the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), continue working on the electronic health human resources database and further request that medical students have a seat at the table for HHR discussion and planning.

We had a great turn out to this year’s Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. All of the delegates were quite impressive.

Lobby Day 2012 Highlights – Health Human Resource Planning Transparency

OMSA is proud to announce that our first ever combined Leadership Summit and Lobby Day took place on March 31st – April 2nd, 2012! Five delegates were chosen from each Ontario medical school to attend the event.

This three-day event started with a brand new Leadership Summit on Saturday, March 31st. The Leadership Summit explored complexity theory, appreciative inquiry and effective communication strategies, and provide participants with a better understanding of their own learning styles. This hands-on and interactive session was designed to help participants apply new skills and knowledge to their own leadership roles. It included guest speakers and panelists with a variety of leadership expertise, tackling the important question of how physicians can influence funding and decision making in the heath-care system.

The rest of the weekend focused on the lobby day. Sunday, April 1st  was an opportunity for students to understand and discuss the “ask” and prepare for the next day when they had the opportunity to meet their local MPP to discuss the “ask” and current issues affecting medical students province-wide. The 2012 Lobby Day took place at Queen’s Park on April 2, 2012. Medical student representatives from all six Ontario medical schools met with MPPs to deliver the following message:

“The Ontario Medical Students’ Association respectfully requests that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care collate all critical information about the future of health human resources planning and utilization into one source to be made available in one place so that medical students are empowered to make informed decisions about which areas of specialty training they would like to pursue.”

This year’s “ask” was particularly successful in that it garnered the support of all Provincial political parties.

For more information, please refer to the Backgrounder and Summary of our ask.

Lobby Day 2011 Highlights – Improving Medical School Accessibility

On March 28th, 2011, medical students from across the province met with politicians at Queen’s Park of all political stripes. The message was simple – cap tuition fee increases to the rate of inflation to ensure medical school is accessible to all qualified Ontarians regardless of their socioeconomic background.