Queen’s Park — On Thursday, the Ontario Legislature will debate a bill introduced by MPP Peggy Sattler (London West) to close a loophole in government oversight of home care services delivered by for-profit clinics. If passed, Sattler’s bill would better protect the safety of patients by preventing the spread of disease through poor practices like failure to properly sterilize medical instruments.
Sattler initiated the bill after 3,001 individuals treated at a for-profit home care clinic in London were told in 2018 to get tested for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV, as they may have been exposed to improperly sterilized instruments.
“I can only imagine how terrifying it must be to get that phone call saying you might have contracted a serious illness at a medical clinic — a place one expects to receive care and protection,” Sattler said.
If passed, Sattler’s bill would make the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care responsible for oversight of home care clinics, including those offering nursing, occupational therapy, social work, speech-language pathology and dietetics. The bill would mandate local health units to conduct annual inspections of clinics, and require that patients be informed of their right to file complaints with their local health unit.
“Previous governments failed Ontario patients by privatizing home care and paving the way for a rise in these for-profit clinics,” Sattler said. “They excluded home care clinics from government oversight of health facilities and from proactive inspections by health units. This government’s cuts to health care, including to public health units, mean we will likely see these for-profit home care clinics cropping up in greater numbers.”
At a press conference held to introduce the bill, Sattler was joined by Jennifer Krische and Brenda Holland, two London West residents who were among the 3,001 former patients told they may have been exposed to diseases at London’s ParaMed Flex Clinic.
“I was horrified to learn that I might be seriously sick after getting treated at a health care clinic. After that call, I wrote to Health Minister Christine Elliott asking her how her government will ensure Ontarians’ safety and hold clinics accountable,” said Krische, who was referred to the clinic in 2012 for post-surgical care. “The Minister passed off my concern, telling me to go talk to my local MPP.”
“This issue should have been rectified years ago, when people first complained to ParaMed about what they suspected were dangerous sterilization practices. Patients’ complaints should be taken seriously,” said Holland, who received post-surgical care there in 2009 and 2012.
“Ontarians deserve to know that any clinic they get treated at has passed a safe inspection and will not make them sick,” said Sattler.