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LEGAL CHALLENGE: Charter Challenge to Bill 7 “More Beds, Better Care Act”

Posted: April 13, 2023

(April 13, 2023)

The Ontario Health Coalition and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly have launched a Charter Challenge to the Ford government’s new law, Bill 7 the “More Beds, Better Care Act”. Despite its title, the law neither provides more beds in hospitals or long-term care homes, nor does it improve care. Instead, the law, passed by the Ford government last summer and put into effect in the autumn, enables the overriding of the right to informed consent for elderly patients, removing their right to select homes and forcing them out of hospitals and into long-term care homes not of their choosing.

The Ontario Health Coalition and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly have made a major step forward in their Charter Challenge to Bill 7, passed by the Ford government last summer. On Wednesday, April 12, 2023, we filed a Notice of Application with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice challenging the legislation as contravening the Canadian Charter. The Application is supported by evidence from four expert physicians and a national expert in health services. The Coalition and ACE have been gathering evidence from patients and their substitute decision-makers in support of our Application.

Bill 7 overrides elderly patients’ fundamental rights to privacy and informed consent, enabling hospitals and placement co-ordinators from the Home and Community Care Support Services (HCCSS) to share the patient’s personal health information with an array of long-term care home operators and others without the patient’s consent. The law applies to hospital patients who are deemed “Alternate Level of Care” (ALC). The law also enables hospitals and placement co-ordinators to coerce patients to move to long-term care homes that they do not want to live in because the home is unsafe, inappropriate or far away from family and friends.

If the patient refuses to move into such a home, the regulations enacted by the Ford government requires hospitals to charge them $400 per day. The regulations allow patients to be moved up to 70 km away in Southern Ontario or up to 150 km away in Northern Ontario (with an additional proviso that patients in the North can be moved even further away if there are no beds available within 150 km).

For most of these patients, this move will be the last of their lives and they will pass away in the long-term care facility that has been forced upon them.

Links to key information:

Summary of Notice of Application filed by the Ontario Health Coalition and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on April 12, 2023

Complete Notice of Application

Summary of Expert Affidavits

Affidavit Dr. Pat Armstrong, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, York University

Affidavit from Dr. Amit Arya, Palliative Care Lead, Kensington Gardens, Palliative Care

Affidavit from Dr. George Heckman, Associate Professor and Schlegel Research Chair in Geriatric Medicine, School  of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, McMaster University

Affidavit from Dr. Samir Sinha, Director of Geriatrics at Sinai Health System and the University Health Network in Toronto, and a Professor of Medicine

Affidavit from Dr. St. Martin, Medical Director, St. Joseph’s Villa Long-Term Care

Affidavit from Jane Meadus, Lawyer and Institutional Advocate, Advocacy Centre for the Elderly

Affidavit from Natalie Mehra, Executive Director, Ontario Health Coalition