Ontario hospitals need oversight

Posted on June 24, 2008 in Governance Debates, Health Debates

TheStar.com – comment/letter – Ontario hospitals need oversight
June 24, 2008

Re:Hardly anything more open to scrutiny than a hospital – Comment, June 23

Tom Closson of the Ontario Hospital Association is parading out the same old arguments as to why Ontario Ombudsman André Marin should keep his investigative eyes off the province’s hospitals. Closson should know that the ombudsman’s mandate is to react to public complaints, not to initiate an investigation out of thin air.

And there are plenty of public complaints – 276 this past year alone. These complaints are not frivolous. Often they involve matters of life and death.

Another sign of malaise in Ontario’s hospitals is the frequent need for “supervisors” when administrators and boards have failed the public. The health ministry has had to send in supervisors to quell local rebellions in several Ontario cities.

Why did community groups in Scarborough have to go to court to force their hospital board to listen to them? Why is Ontario the only province in Canada where the ombudsman has no jurisdiction to investigate public complaints about hospitals?

Last year, an informal Toronto Star poll indicated that 92 per cent of the public would favour such independent oversight. Marin is just articulating the people’s wish. It is time to grant it.

John Balatinecz, Toronto

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