Ontario passes major health reform bill | Insurance Business Canada

Bill has drawn criticism from a number of stakeholders

Ontario passes major health reform bill

Life & Health


Ontario’s new health reform bill, titled the Your Health Act, aims to cut down long wait lists for care by allowing more private clinics to offer publicly-funded surgeries and procedures.

According to the press release, the bill expands cataract surgeries and diagnostic imaging and testing and creates a new system for hip- and knee-replacement surgeries. Premier Doug Ford expressed his support for the bill, saying it will “give people the care they need in a rapid fashion.”

However, the bill has drawn criticism from opposition parties, healthcare workers, and hospitals, who are concerned about losing staff to private clinics.

The province has not yet disclosed who will regulate or inspect the new clinics, and hospitals fear losing staff to these clinics.

As part of their applications, new clinics must apply for a license to operate and provide detailed staffing plans to “protect the stability of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers at public hospitals.”

Last summer, hospital emergency departments across the province had to close for hours, days, or weeks at a time due to a severe shortage of nurses. Hospitals have also had to cancel surgeries to shuffle healthcare workers to intensive care units and emergency departments dealing with a massive influx of sick children.

Opposition parties and healthcare workers have expressed their concerns about the bill, stating that it may create longer wait times, shutter emergency departments, and increase exhaustion for already-stressed healthcare workers.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association has urged the government to invest in hospitals rather than set up a new system, with President Erin Ariss saying, “Bill 60 draws fed-up staff out of our public system and exacerbates the staffing issues already faced by our public hospitals.”

New Democrat Leader Marit Stiles has also criticized the bill and warned of clinics “upselling” patients by pressuring them to choose a service or product that costs more than what the Ontario Health Insurance Plan covers.

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) had proposed a similar system to deal with the surgical backlog but wanted the private clinics to operate as non-profits.

The OMA’s new president, Dr. Andrew Park, said that accessibility is the most important issue and that the profit versus non-profit model is “more of a minor issue.”

The OMA and the province’s doctors plan to help develop the regulations for the new system to ensure they adhere to the major principles within the Canada Health Act.

Details of the new system will not be revealed until the government proposes regulatory changes. While the new bill aims to cut down wait times, critics argue that it may undermine the public healthcare system and create new issues for healthcare workers.

The province will need to work closely with hospitals, healthcare workers, and the Ontario Medical Association to ensure that the new system is effective and equitable for all.

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