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Government backs off hospital freedom of information (as quietly as possible).

The Ontario Hospital Association is crowing, calling it "a great day for everybody who supports better patient care."  

They, along with the insurance industry, have won the day, securing on Thursday an amendment to the Budget Bill that will allow hospital CEOs to deny requests from the general public for access to an array of information regarding quality of healthcare in hospitals.  

Following contracting out scandals at hospitals, e-Health, and elsewhere, the Ontario Liberal government moved  in the fall to make hospitals subject as of January 2012 to freedom of information requests under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.   (And, oy vey, the government really made a big deal about this...)

However, as Ontario Health Coalition Director Natalie Mehra observed on this new development.  “Today, (the government) undid a substantial portion of its own legislation passed last fall to expand hospital accountability in the wake of the e-Health scandal.”

While the OHA is crowing, it's notable that as of this writing (4 pm Thursday), there  is no media release on this from the Ministry of Health and LTC on their web site.  

I'm not surprised. 

Update: The Canadian Press reports that Health Minister Deb Matthews claimed, "We did not go as far as the Ontario Hospital Association and the Ontario Medical Association wanted to go, which was a full exclusion where you can't even request the information."  

Tom Closson, the CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, in a debate with the Ontario Health Coalition on this issue, had claimed that the amendment was a "limited, targeted exemption". He didn't mention that the OHA had wanted a "full exclusion" however!

No one wants to take the rap on this restriction to public information, it seems.  I'm still not surprised. 


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