Freedom of information, expense info, and consultant reports coming to Ontario hospitals

Another change proposed in the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act (Bil 122) is to make hospitals subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) as of January 1, 2012.

The change is some time off:  the government, with some reason, claims that it will take the hospitals time to prepare for freedom of information (FOI) requests.  But once in place, records from the previous five years will be subject to FOI requests, the government assures us.   LHINs have been subject to FOI requests since 2005 (the year they were established). Personal health information is excluded from FOI requests.

The Act also sets some requirements for the public posting of expense claim information by designated broader public sector organizations. The proposed legislation requires Local Health Integration Networks and hospitals to post information about expense claims onto their public web sites -- other broader public sector organizations may be required by regulation to do likewise at a later date.  The Ministry of Health and LTC will issue directives setting out what must be reported (s. 8.2).  Reportedly, the reports will apply to the expenses of senior executives.  Regulations may later expand the requirement to report expense claim information to other broader public sector organizations (s.9.2)

As well, LHINs and hospitals will be required to report annually on their use of consultants.  What, exactly, must be reported will be announced later, as the Ministry of Health and LTC is given the power to issue directives on this (s. 5.2 & 6.2).  Again, other broader public sector organizations may be made subject to this requirement through regulation (s.7.1)

Consultants are defined (s. 1.1) as people other than employees who provide expert or strategic advice through a contract.  So no -- hospitals will not be required to report on contracting-out for other services -- services (like housekeeping or food) which eat up a lot more of the budget than when services are contracted out to consultants.

Too bad.


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