On July 8, 2014, the former Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Deb Matthews (now the President of the Treasury Board), introduced Bill 8, the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014, which proposes changes to several statutes including the Excellent Care for All Act, 2010 (ECFAA). The ECFAA provisions of Bill 8 are a restatement of those found in Bill 179. Clients may remember that Bill 179 had been introduced and carried at first reading during the former session of the Legislature but died on the Order Paper with the call for the provincial election.
Proposed amendments to ECFAA (Schedule 5)
Bill 8 outlines to following key amendments to ECFAA:
- Expands the definition of “health sector organization” to include community care access centres (CCACs) and long-term care (LTC) homes.
- Expands the functions of Health Quality Ontario (HQO) under the Act to include the area of patient relations. This appears to a formalization of initiatives already being undertaken by HQO. See here, for example.
- Creates the position of patient ombudsman. The patient ombudsman shall be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and employed by HQO.
- Enumerates the functions of the patient ombudsman as:
o receiving and responding to complaints from patients and former patients of a health sector organization, and other persons if prescribed;
o facilitating the resolution of complaints made by patients and former patients of a health sector organization, and other persons if prescribed;
o undertaking investigations of complaints made by patients and former patients of a health sector organization, and other persons if prescribed, and to undertake investigations of health sector organizations on the patient ombudsman’s own initiative;
o making recommendations to health sector organizations following the conclusion of investigations; and
o doing anything else provided for in the regulations.
- Introduces provisions concerning complaint facilitation, investigations, reports and other matters are included.
Should the Bill be passed into law, CCACs and LTC homes will be most impacted, at least initially. In addition to the Bill’s increased oversight mechanisms (applicable to all health care organizations), an amended ECFAA will statutorily require CCACs and LTC home clients to adopt and implement (to the extent they have not done so already) additional and more formal quality improvement obligations – including the establishment of a Board quality committee, regular patient/provider surveying and public reporting. Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) development may be less of an issue since many in the LTC sector adopted it on a voluntary basis through the HQO Residents First initiative; and CCACs began submitting QIPs as of April 1 this year.
The Bill passed first reading on July 8, 2014. A full text of the Bill can be found here.