Process "Reprehensible": Coalition
TORONTO, May 5 /CNW/ - Six McGuinty government MPPs voted to pass the
"hospital secrecy clause" in this morning's Finance and Economic
Affairs Committee. The clause (Bill 173, Schedule 15), a loophole which
will allow hospital CEOs to deny requests for public access to an array
of information regarding quality of healthcare in hospitals, was
slipped into the government's Budget Bill after lobbying of the
government by the Ontario Hospital Association and insurance companies.
It has nothing to do with the budget. It has prompted a flurry of
opposition from groups in addition to the Ontario Health Coalition,
including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Ontario Nurses'
Association, the Council of Canadians, the Registered Nurses'
Association, health care unions such as CUPE, CAW, SEIU and OPSEU, the
Association for Reformed Political Action, the Ontario Trial Lawyers
Association, the Ontario Federation of Labour, the Medical Reform
Group, and concerned citizens.
Both NDP and Conservative MPPs on the Finance Committee voted against
the hospital secrecy clause this morning. They were outnumbered on the
committee by Liberal MPPs who pushed the secrecy measure through. In
the next step, the Budget Bill, including the hospital secrecy clause,
will go to the legislature where the government will use its majority
to pass it into law.
"The process used by the government to slip a clause expanding hospital
secrecy in a Budget Bill at the behest of vested interests is
reprehensible. The secrecy clause has nothing to do with the budget,
except, ironically, to undermine public accountability," said Natalie
Mehra, coalition director. "Dozens of organizations have spoken out in
opposition to this expansion of hospital secrecy."
"The hospital secrecy law allows hospital CEOs to deny public, patients,
media and others access to an array of quality of care information if
the CEO claims that the hospital intended the information to be
confidential. CEOs can determine that the information was intended to
be confidential, even retroactively," she noted. "Patients and those
seeking information will then be forced to go through a lengthy and
complex appeals process that can take more than a year, where patients
and public advocates will have to overcome the arguments of hospital
lawyers to force disclosure."
"The government cannot honestly claim now or leading into the provincial
election that it extended access to information over hospitals. Today,
it undid a substantial portion of its own legislation passed last fall
to expand hospital accountability in the wake of the e-health scandal,"
More background and information on our website: www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca
SOURCE Ontario Health Coalition
For further information:
Megan Cobean 416-441-2502 (office) or Natalie Mehra 416-230-6402 (cell)