Have you or someone you know been hurt by the Canadian Healthcare System?

You are not alone. Millions of Canadians are affected by medical error
resulting in death or injury during their lifetimes.

We're glad you came here. We invite you to join us as we form an organization which strives
to improve patient safety and enshrine patient rights, because every patient matters.

Join us. Contribute your voice and talents. Make a difference.

Email: impatient4change@gmail.com
Facebook: ImPatient for Change
Twitter: @Right2SafeCare


Monday, May 9, 2011

The Worse Tomorrow for Ontario Act

Tomorrow the Liberals will pass a budget bill they call the Better Tomorrow for Ontario Act.

Only tomorrow will be worse because buried in their budget bill is a giant loophole which will make our healthcare system less transparent and accountable to the public.

What the media dubbed the "hospital secrecy" law is an amendment to our freedom of information law. This amendment takes away our right to access a vast array of hospital quality information, by allowing hospital executives to withhold information about "system failures". Some hospitals don't want to answer the public's questions about what has been done to reduce hospital-acquired infections and adverse events.

The hospital secrecy loophole was pushed through legislative committee on May 5 by the Liberals, at the behest of the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), malpractice insurance companies for hospitals and doctors, and the Ontario Medical Association. Tom Closson, CEO of the OHA, was particularly vocal in promoting this loophole. Minister of Health Deb Matthews told the legislature that she was "persuaded" by the "hospital sector" to put this loophole in the budget bill.

Many groups and individuals opposed the hospital secrecy loophole, on the grounds that the public should have a right to know what is happening in public hospitals. These groups include: the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Council of Canadians, the Medical Reform Group, ImPatient for Change, the Ontario Health Coalition, nurses (RNAO, ONA), healthcare worker unions (OPSEU, CUPE, SEIU, CAW, OFL), the Association for Reformed Political Action, the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association and other citizens.

Hospitals were put under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) in December 2010 as a response to the e-Health scandal. They were given until January 1, 2012 to start processing FIPPA requests, dating from 2007. Ontario was the last province to put hospitals under freedom of information legislation. We were finally catching up, but the new hospital secrecy loophole is considered by many to be a big step backwards.

The public can appeal denied requests to the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) but these appeals can take years and injured patients don't always have time to wait. Appeals to the IPC may also interfere with freedom of the press if journalists require government approval to get public information for their stories. The broadly-worded hospital secrecy loophole is against the principle of FIPPA, that any exemption be limited and specific.

The amendment passed in committee, five to three. Five Liberals voted yes to hospital secrecy: Liz Sandals and Phil McNeely (Parliamentary Assistants to Minister Matthews), Bob Delaney, Helena Jaczek and Leeanna Pendergast.

Conservatives Toby Barrett and Norm Miller and NDP Peter Tabuns voted against the hospital secrecy loophole. The Conservative and NDP caucuses also opposed it.

The next provincial election is on October 6, 2011. This is your opportunity to elect a party which puts the public interest ahead of the interests of hospital and insurance lobbyists. We encourage you to vote for hospital transparency and accountability; ask your candidates if they intend to reverse the hospital secrecy law.

There has been significant media coverage of the hospital secrecy amendment already, including in the London Free Press, QMI Agency, Canadian Press, Toronto Star, Winnipeg Free Press, Guelph Mercury, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, Kingston Whig-Standard, Windsor Star, Sudbury Star, Global Toronto, CBC Radio, CFRA, and CTV.

No comments:

Post a Comment