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Hospital unions blast Bill 7

Posted: September 1, 2022

(August 31, 2022)

By: Greg Estabrooks, Northern News This Week

Ontario’s Council of Hospital Unions and other union representatives are demanding a Human Rights Commission inquiry of the Ford government’s plan to relocate some hospitalized seniors.

This comes as the Ontario government has passed Bill 7, which would transfer senior hospital patients to long-term care homes not of their choosing on a temporary basis.

Michael Hurley, the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, addressed the media during a noontime Zoom call on Wednesday.

“We are deeply disappointed that the government’s first move to address the staffing crisis will have no impact on it. Emptying beds of ALC (Alternate Level of Care) patients and replacing them will do nothing to retrain or recruit staff. ERs and ICUs will continue to close,” said Hurley.

“Bill 7 targets Alternate Level of Care patients in hospitals. They are overwhelmingly elder Ontarians.  A designation of Alternate Level of Care is a crude brush.  In our rush to empty beds many elderly patients who still require acute care, will be forced to go to long-term care facilities. This will be done through Bill 7’s new mechanisms, suspending the consent to treatment, breaching privacy rights, suspension of the right to appeal the decision, forced transfer outside of the community, 300 kilometres in Northern Ontario, 100 kilometres in Southern Ontario.

“These are the suspensions of basic civil liberties and the liberties being suspended are effectively for one age group. It will also be done without the consultation of the public and the (Ontario) legislature. The Ford government denied any meaningful input on Bill 7.”

Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, said she is shocked at what she believes is the targeting of the elderly.

“We now have the fewest hospital beds per person of any province in the country. We are far behind our peer countries, some of which have twice the number of beds per person. At each stage, the pressure (is) on the elderly … as if their right to care is somehow lesser,” said Mehra.

“Now we have the new act which would, enshrined in a permanent law in Ontario, suspend the rights of this target population. It would deprive them of the right for consent at the very last stage of their life.”

The Nugget reached out to Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli’s office Wednesday for comment.

“Our government recognizes that the status quo in health care is not working and Ontarians deserve better,” Fedeli said in a statement.

“Our priority is for people to receive high-quality care where they can have the best possible quality of life, close to their family and friends. As the Premier said earlier today ‘We’re taking care of the people that need support and need patient care. They’re going to get much better care in a long-term care facility than sitting in a hospital bed.’

“We will take whatever steps necessary to ensure that Ontarians have access to the right care in the right place when they need it,” said Fedeli.

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