New Legislation Fails to Implement SARS Report Recommendations, Say Ontario Front-Line Nurses

    TORONTO, April 24 /CNW/ - Ontario's front-line nurses say the Ontario
government's new health-care legislation ignores key recommendations made by
Justice Archie Campbell in his final SARS report and threatens the health
information privacy of Ontario's nurses.
    The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) has made both an oral and written
submission to the Standing Committee on Social Policy regarding concerns with
Bill 171 - the Health Systems Improvement Act, 2006.
    "ONA has grave concerns with respect to the failure of this legislation
to protect nurses' personal health information and most importantly, nurses'
health," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "Bill 171 fails to
include measures to protect nurses in the workplace that were key
recommendations in Justice Archie Campbell's final SARS report.
    "Justice Campbell recommended that the precautionary principle - or
erring on the side of caution - be expressly adopted in the Health Protection
and Promotion Act as well as in all relevant health statutes," notes
Haslam-Stroud. "He also strongly recommended that the Ontario Agency for
Health Protection and Promotion include a well-resourced, integrated section
on worker safety research and investigation, and on integrating worker safety
and infection control. This, too, is missing from Bill 171."
    The legislation also enables highly private personal health information
of RNs to be posted on the website of the College of Nurses of Ontario in some
cases. Nurses expect the government to make appropriate amendments to protect
their privacy.
    "While ONA is very supportive of transparency in health care, this
legislation, as written, would allow the personal health information of our
members to be posted on the College of Nurses website," says Haslam-Stroud.
"Personal health information is highly sensitive and private and should never
be placed on the public register."
    Provisions in the legislation that require publication of such
information will have a disproportionate and discriminatory impact on ONA
members with disabilities, which we believe contravenes the fundamental rights
to equality both under the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter
of Rights and Freedoms. ONA has made recommendations to address these concerns
to the Standing Committee.

    ONA is the union representing 53,000 registered nurses and allied health
professionals working in Ontario hospitals, long-term care facilities, public
health, the community and industry.

For further information:

For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association: Sheree Bond, (416)
964-8833, ext. 2430, Cellular: (416) 986-8240; Melanie Levenson, (416)
964-8833, ext. 2369

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