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LETTER: Bill 7 removes Charter right for patient choice

Posted: September 21, 2022

(September 20, 2022)

By: Shirley Roebuck, Chatham This Week

A joint statement from the CEOs of Chatham-Kent Health Alliance and Windsor Regional Hospital was issued in regard to Premier Doug Ford’s Bill 7, which is now the law.

The statement is an attempt to make Bill 7 seem to be a reasonable part of the solution to hospital backlogs.

The statement says hospitals and staff are overwhelmed by patients waiting in the emergency departments for admission. The CEOs explain that patients who have been designated by their doctors as ALC (Alternate Level of Care) are waiting for a different type of bed – LTC, Complex Continuing Care, Rehab, Mental Health, etc.

Previously, a hospital patient waiting for a long-term care bed had the right to choose five LTC homes, and they could have stayed in the hospital until a bed became available in one of those homes.

But under Bill 7 that right to choose has been eliminated, and the patient could be forced to the first bed that comes available, period. Their Charter right to choose has been taken away by the government. If the patient refuses to go to a long-term care home outside of those on her or his list of preferences, that patient will be charged $400 per day. That is $12,000 per month.

The authors state that Bill 7 is one part of the solution to Ontario’s current hospital crisis. Bill 7, along with new hospital beds, new long-term care home builds and service expansions will all help to rectify the overwhelming backlog of medical care that is needed.

What the CEOs do not mention is that most Ontario hospitals have beds and operating room suites that have been closed due to government funding shortages, and yet Bill 7 will fund new private, for-profit surgical day care clinics. They do not mention that most MRI suites can no longer operate 24 hours a day due to staff shortages. They do not talk about extreme nursing shortages which have put safe patient care at risk. They forget to mention that there is a severe shortage for all types of health care workers.

They do not mention that there is a 38,000-person waiting list for long-term care home beds in the province.

Is this a part of Ford’s privatization of healthcare plan? Instead of funding hospital beds that already exist, will he announce the on-going shortage of active beds, and give our tax dollars to private and for-profit surgery clinics?

What exactly does service expansions mean? How will hospitals collect the $400 per day fee for those waiting for a long-term care bed. That has not been clarified. How will hospitals stop healthcare workers from finding employment in Detroit, where the work- life is more appealing?

The CEOs end their statement by saying that all hospitals want to deliver compassionate care, and that the Health Alliance and the Windsor hospital will work with patients and families, compassionately and collaboratively to provide quality care.

The words are lovely, but it is actions that count.

The Conservatives named Bill 7 the “More Beds, Better Care Act”. No beds have been re-opened, no staffing levels have been increased, and I fail to see how this legislation will result in better care.

Shirley Roebuck

Chatham Kent Health Coalition

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