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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ontario government pushes hospital secrecy law

Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 8:30-10 AM and 2:00-6:00 PM.


Finance and Economic Affairs Committee Room -
Public Hearings for Bill 173 - budget bill
Schedule: http://bit.ly/eezdQT

Includes comment on s.15 of Bill 173, Hospital Secrecy Law

Premier Dalton McGuinty, who told the press today that he wants open, accountable and transparent hospitals, is advancing a budget through the legislature that keeps hospital information secret.

McGuinty offered the statement of transparency in response to news stories which quoted a Toronto law firm advising hospitals to avoid scandal by "cleansing" their existing records.

But on Thursday, the government's finance committee will be hearing an earful from angry health citizen groups, who are upset that the Liberals have buried a hospital secrecy law in their budget.

The hospital secrecy law is an amendment to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), which allows hospitals to refuse to disclose hospital quality information.

This hospital secrecy law was defeated in the fall when it was first suggested as an amendment to the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act (BPSAA) by Canada's largest malpractice insurance company for hospitals (HIROC), the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), and the Ontario Medical Association (OMA).

The BPSAA, which was enacted as a response to the LHIN e-Health scandal, received royal assent in December. This act granted the public access to hospital quality information through FIPPA beginning in January 2012 and dating from 2007.

The lobbyists were not happy about this, so Health Minister Deb Matthews told the legislature that they "persuaded" her to resurrect the amendment and stick it back in the budget bill.

A number of groups are opposed to this hospital secrecy law, including the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, the Ontario Health Coalition, ImPatient for Change (a patient rights group), church groups, and other citizens. They argue that transparency is important and that the public should have a right to know what is going on in our public healthcare system.

Federal parties say they plan to increase transfer payments to the provinces for healthcare. In order to determine if federal dollars are being spent wisely, the federal government will need access to healthcare information. But they won't have this access to information from Ontario, if this hospital secrecy law passes.

The vote on the hospital secrecy law, which will revoke the public's right to access healthcare information, is on May 5.

Here are some highlights of media coverage of this amendment:
Toronto Star: http://bit.ly/hT4Wji
London Free Press: http://bit.ly/fRods9
Global Toronto: http://bit.ly/gv59YS
CFRA 580: http://bit.ly/fcF5Aa
CTV Toronto: http://bit.ly/govmD7
Kitchener-Waterloo Record: http://bit.ly/hJ4pgz
Guelph Mercury: http://bit.ly/erdcEB
Winnipeg Free Press - http://bit.ly/f73WYU
Canadian Press - http://bit.ly/eJgiXx
QMI Agency - SunMedia: http://bit.ly/fBEpWx
The London Free Press: http://bit.ly/eThY6q (re: cleansing records)
The London Free Press: http://bit.ly/fW63bI (re: hospital secrecy law)
CBC Radio Windsor interview: http://bit.ly/g2RiNO
Toronto Star before the fall vote: http://bit.ly/iiCdj5
Sudbury Star after amendment defeated in the fall: http://bit.ly/gB0eJw

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ImPatient for Change is a new patient rights organization whose goal is to exchange information about patient safety and to advocate for medical reform in the public interest. We believe that Every Patient Matters. For more information, please contact impatient4change@gmail.com or visit us on Facebook at Every Patient Matters.


  1. Hospitals and doctors should be keeping better track of medical histories - not destroying records. Destroying patient records often cheats ME /FMS people out of disability benefits. It's time the medical profession started acting for the people who pay them !

  2. It is important that more effort be made not only to retain records but to train staff on the importance of recording all complications resulting from treatment.

    Thanks very much for bringing up the issue of the impact of poor record-keeping on disability benefits. If you have a story to tell about this, please email us at impatient4change@gmail.com .