Ontario Passes Legislation to Strengthen Transparency in Health Care
Changes Include Greater Oversight of Long-Term Care Homes, Pharmaceutical Companies, says Kathryn McGarry, MPP Cambridge
Ontario has passed legislation to enhance transparency, accountability and the quality of care across the health care sector, including greater oversight of long-term care homes and pharmaceutical companies.
The Strengthening Quality and Accountability for Patients Act, 2017 will ensure that the province’s health system continues to put patients and their families first by making important changes to key pieces of legislation which strengthen oversight and safeguard the quality of care in Ontario.
“As a nurse who has worked in emergency, critical care in pediatric wards in hospitals, and in community home care, I am a persistent advocate for effective, efficient and transparent health care services,” said Kathryn McGarry, MPP Cambridge.
“With the passing of the Strengthening Quality and Accountability for Patients Bill, we are improving safety for patients and communities across the province,” McGarry said.
Key highlights include:
- Making Ontario the first province or territory in Canada to require the medical industry, including pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, to disclose payments made to health care professionals and organizations, as well as other recipients.
- Strengthening Ontario’s quality and safety inspection program for long-term care homes with new enforcement tools, including financial penalties and new provincial offences for non-compliance.
- Enabling paramedics to provide appropriate, safe and effective care for patients by providing timely on-scene care, and/or transportation to another facility that best meets their needs. This will allow patients to receive more appropriate care closer to home and in the community, improve ambulance service coverage and help address overcrowding in emergency departments.
- Prohibiting the creation of new private hospitals in Ontario and enabling existing private hospitals to be designated as community health facilities or other facilities at a later date, so there is greater quality oversight through more detailed reporting and consistency in delivering quality care.
- Ensuring that no person, other than a regulated health professional, shall sell, offer for sale or provide eye tattooing or implantation of eye jewellery.
- Permitting the regulation of recreational water facilities, like splash pads and wading pools, and personal service settings, including barber shops and nail salons, to help ensure Ontario’s high public health quality standards are met.
- Strengthening the oversight of diagnostic medical sonographers (those who use ultrasound) through new legislation that will cover the entirety of the medical radiation and imaging technology profession.
- Requiring operators of community health facilities and medical radiation devices (such as X-ray machines, CT scanners, ultrasound machines and MRIs) to obtain a licence and enhancing the enforcement tools available to inspectors, to improve patient safety.
- Strengthening the protection of seniors in Retirement Homes, through increased oversight powers of the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA), while increasing overall transparency, accountability and governance.
Ontario's plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of Medicare in a generation.
“Family Councils of Ontario (FCO) are very pleased to see the passage of Bill 160. We support these new enforcement tools and will continue to work with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and other sector partners towards better care and safety for all residents living in long-term care homes,” said Lorraine Purdon, Executive Director, Family Councils of Ontario.
“We applaud these improvements to the Long-Term Care Homes Act, as well as the transparency of the inspection process that FCO, families and residents have been working towards,” she said.
- Ontario is now the first Canadian province or territory to legislate mandatory disclosure of private sector payments to health professionals.
- Ontario’s health care budget will total $53.8 billion in 2017-18 — a 3.8 per cent increase from the previous year.
- The bill includes 10 pieces of legislation that demonstrate how Ontario is continuing to improve quality and accountability in the health care system.