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Ontario action alert: Anti-Freedom of Information Amendment

 

April 14, 2011 | Daniel Kanis

ARPA Canada Note: The notice below is from the Niagara ARPA chapter. You can read more about the matter from the mainstream media here.

“The impact this will have on Ontario’s health care system is frightening.   Hospitals who engage in poor practices will be protected from scrutiny resulting in numerous victims.  Even if your family doctor wants access to information regarding a hospital’s record of quality, he can be denied access.  Worse yet, this is an incremental step to uncontested Euthanasia in Ontario’s Hospitals.  No one, not even the media, will be permitted access to the necessary information required to expose this kind of practice.  Even if access is requested on the basis of public interest it will be denied.”


Anti-Freedom of Information Amendment – ARPA Niagara – April 2011: Health care is easy to take for granted.  In Ontario we can be very thankful for the care we have.  There are numerous doctors and nurses on hand to care for us should we develop health concerns. Our Health Care system is run by many caring individuals, but we still need safeguards in place to ensure the wellbeing of the patient.  One of the safeguards put in place in Ontario is the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).  This Act ensures the right to access information while protecting personal information.

In the event that a patient doesn’t receive adequate care or there is reason to suspect poor practice, access to all medical records is necessary to determine if negligence has indeed occurred.  Access to medical information is also necessary to determine if the negligence is ongoing and how many patients may have been affected.

Under current law, the public has the freedom to access hospital records that detail what decisions led to the treatment, or lack there of, a patient received.  Whether a patient’s appendicitis surgery was delayed to the point of being life-threatening or a patient’s life ended sooner than expected after being administered morphine, FIPPA ensures accountability and transparency.

The Liberals under Dalton McGuinty have included in their budget (Bill 173) an amendment (Schedule 15) to Section 18.1 of FIPPA which currently reads as follows:

18. (1)  A head may refuse to disclose a record that contains,”

 This is followed by a list, from (A) to (I), of various information that government agencies are not required to disclose.  Schedule 15 would add the following:

 “(j)  information provided to, or records prepared by, a hospital committee for the purpose of assessing or evaluating the quality of health care and directly related programs and services provided by the hospital.”

Adding (J) to section 18 (1) would result in the denial of access to any information related to quality of health care.  This is very broad and will remove access to hospital records from a patient, or deceased patient’s loved one, who is concerned about treatment received.  Access to stats and reports will be denied.  There will be no method to investigate the quality of Ontario’s hospitals.  Access to information will be limited to a patient’s medical chart and some other directly personal information, which will still be protected.  All other information related to quality of health, stored in your hospital, will be off limits.

The impact this will have on Ontario’s health care system is frightening.   Hospitals who engage in poor practices will be protected from scrutiny resulting in numerous victims.  Even if your family doctor wants access to information regarding a hospital’s record of quality, he can be denied access.  Worse yet, this is an incremental step to uncontested Euthanasia in Ontario’s Hospitals.  No one, not even the media, will be permitted access to the necessary information required to expose this kind of practice.  Even if access is requested on the basis of public interest it will be denied.

The budget, with this terrible amendment, has already passed second reading and will now go to committee before receiving Royal Assent.  Citizens opposing this amendment need to be present at the hearing.

Nurses and other healthcare workers have been supportive of the struggle to defeat this amendment.  Please join the initiative to maintain transparency and accountability in Ontario’s Hospitals. 

What you can do:

1) Learn more by visiting the Facebook page “Every Patient Matters”

2) Attend or Testify at the Public hearing for Bill 173 before the Finance Committee.

For details, including date and time, for attending or testifying e-mail: [email protected]

3) Call or write your MPP and inform him/her of your concern about this amendment. (Bill 173 Schedule 15)

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