Bill 7 hasn’t taken hold in CK yet

(File photo courtesy © CanStockPhoto.com/Leaf)

The hospitals in Chatham and Wallaceburg have not had to move any patients or issue fines yet under Bill 7.

Bill 7, which was approved by the Ontario government in August and came into effect on September 21, allows hospitals to move patients to long-term care homes without their informed consent and charge them $400 a day if they are discharged but choose to remain in the hospital.

Vice President of Clinical Programs and Operations at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) Caen Suni said it’s so far, so good locally.

“At this point, we haven’t had to activate some of the tools of the bill itself. It’s something we haven’t had to do from our end,” said Suni. “There are two sides to it. One is from the Home and Community Care conversation with patients in terms of what their choices are. The outcome of that conversation is the direction to hospitals to provide for those fees that we would charge. At this point, we have not had a case escalated,” Suni said.

Suni noted families and patients across Chatham-Kent have been cooperating with the hospitals and that has made life easier for everybody.

“Our patients have been moving in greater numbers to their more appropriate area of care. Whether it’s long term care home or a rest home. That’s good news as well,” Suni noted.

Bill 7 is controversial and has gotten some backlash, especially from the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA). The union said patients must not be forced into long term care homes without consent because it potentially violates their rights and puts patients and healthcare workers in an impossible situation.

“ONA is adamantly against Bill 7 because it removes patients’ basic right to consent, can result in worse health outcomes for vulnerable patients, and does not address the root causes of the health-care crisis in Ontario, which is primarily under-staffing of nurses and health-care professionals,” ONA said in a previous statement. “ONA, other unions and advocacy groups have spoken against this bill at every possible stage, however, the government has fast-tracked the bill, shortened debates, and skipped committees, therefore removing opportunities for public and stakeholder consultation.”

The nurses’ union said transferring patients without consent during the pandemic was meant to be an emergency measure, but Bill 7 normalizes this practice in dangerous ways, with “grave implications for patients’ rights” and health outcomes that could suffer as a result of isolation and stress.

Under the bill, patients in southern Ontario can be moved as far as 70 kilometers away.