April 21, 2011
URGENT ACTION ALERT - Preserve Public Access to Information on Quality of Care in Hospitals ***PLEASE RESPOND BY WEDNESDAY MAY 4***
On Wednesday, May 4, 2011, the public could lose its right to request information about quality of care in hospitals, under a proposed government amendment to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). Provincial MPPs will be voting on an amendment that would allow a hospital to refuse any request for information or reports on quality of care in that hospital. This is the kind of information patient and health advocates need to understand how well our system and individual hospitals are working.
If the government is serious about advancing the quality agenda – as championed by RNAO Best Practice Guidelines and the government’s own Excellent Care for All Act – the public must have access to more information, not less.
By clicking on this link  you can contact MPPs and the Premier directly and ask them to preserve your access to information on quality of care in hospitals.
We have a small window. On Thursday, April 21, the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs will hold public consultations on Bill 173, the Budget Bill. This is the only day of hearings on this important piece of legislation, and RNAO’s President-elect Rhonda Seidman-Carlson will deliver the RNAO submission . The Committee will start and finish debate on the Bill on May 5. One of the sections of the Bill – Schedule 15 – contains a proposed amendment to FIPPA allowing a hospital to refuse to release “information provided to, or records prepared by, a hospital committee for the purpose of assessing or evaluating the quality of health care and directly related programs and services provided by the hospital.”
This is a sweeping exclusion because neither the legislation nor the amendment defines a hospital committee. Note that we are NOT talking about information that could identify an individual patient or health professional. Existing legislation already excludes information collected for or by a quality of care committee, so this week’s amendment could be interpreted to exclude all other quality of care information and reports.
If the government is afraid that freedom of information requests would chill quality of care discussions, then they could enact a far less-sweeping amendment confirming that hospitals can withhold any information that could identify individuals, but otherwise oblige them to release quality information.
Last Fall, the Ontario Legislature approved the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010, that, with the strong support of the RNAO, extended freedom of information scrutiny to hospitals. In fact the RNAO called for hospitals to be subject to freedom of information in its election platform Creating Vibrant Communities. Now, with this week’s amendment, the government is taking a step backwards.
Time is short. Please act today and tell the Premier and MPPs that enhancing quality in our health care system means more, not less, public accountability and transparency.
Send an action alert and urge Committee Members and the Premier to:
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