Special Health Legislative Update: Ontario

December 15, 2010 | Kathryn M. Frelick

Over the past number of years, an extraordinary series of changes relating to health service delivery in the province of Ontario has resulted in a fundamental shift in concepts of accountability and transparency.  The Ontario government embarked upon its “transformation agenda” which included the introduction of umbrella legislation such as the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act, 2004 and the Local Health Integration System Act, 2006,and the creation and implementation of Local Health Integration Networks.

In this province, health service providers have traditionally looked at accountability in terms of corporate governance principles.  Directors and officers have a fiduciary duty to exercise their duties honestly and in the best interests of the corporation,and with reasonable care, diligence and skill.  They fulfill their corporate responsibilities by ensuring that appropriate systems are in place to ensure quality of care.

Recent legislative changes have resulted in greater government control, and new models of public accountability, transparency and quality.  While the stated focus is to provide more access to health care services while improving quality and accountability for individuals, for health industry clients, this means a significant change in thinking.  At times, there can be tension between the fiduciary obligation owed to the organization and concepts of public accountability as reflected in legislation and required contractual agreements.

Over the past year, legislative changes have impacted upon every segment of the health industry.  The purpose of this Communiqué is to highlight some of the key legislative changes.

Miller Thomson’s Health Industry Group has significant knowledge and expertise in all areas impacted by these changes.  Our lawyers are well positioned to provide timely, practical and cost-effective legal and risk management advice.  Please contact us should you need assistance with legislative compliance.  We can assist with the development and amendment of bylaws, policies and procedures, and processes, as well as education and training with respect to the new legislation and implementation.

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