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France Gélinas appeals to Human Rights for judgment on Bill 7

Nickel Belt MPP and official opposition health care critic France Gélinas believes the rights of some hospital patients are being ignored by government legislation

Ontario's official opposition health critic France Gélinas is stepping up the fight against Ontario's Bill 7; the More Beds, Better Care Act that was passed by the governing Progressive Conservatives earlier this week.

Gélinas said Friday she has written to the Ontario’s Human Rights Commission for a judgment on Bill 7, which she said has the capacity to violate the rights of hospital patients who do not wish to be removed from their hospital beds and sent to a long-term care home.

Part of the rationale for the creation of Bill 7 is that the government wants to ensure there are enough acute care hospital beds available in Ontario if the COVID-19 pandemic flares up with a new wave and results in more cases being sent to hospital.

“This will take away the rights of frail, elderly people to give consent. When dealing with a health professional you always have a right to consent or the right not to consent; I’m confident the Ontario Human Rights Commissioner will feel the same” Gélinas said in a news release.

In her letter to the Human Rights commissioner, Gélinas said that through Bill 7, any hospital patient designated as ALC (Alternate Level of Care) may be assessed without their consent, have their personal information shared with long-term care home operators without their consent, have applications to long-term care filled out without their consent and be admitted to a long-term care (LTC) home to which they do not want to go, without their consent.

"The government of Ontario has abdicated their responsibility to provide community alternatives; like publicly funded home care and long-term care beds, leaving no attractive alternative to long hospital stays," Gélinas said in the letter. 

She argued that having applications to long-term care filled out without patient consent is a clear violation of a patient’s Charter right to privacy.

"In your Commission’s “Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions” section 16 states “The power to make decisions about matters that affect one’s own life and to have them respected by law is a fundamental part of realizing one’s rights as an autonomous adult, and indeed, is fundamental to personhood itself," Gélinas wrote. 

"Commissioner, I hope the commission can make recommendations regarding the rights vulnerable seniors seem to be losing under this legislation," she added.

The Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Ontario Health Coalition also wrote to the Ontario Human Rights Commission this week asking for an “inquiry (into) age-based discrimination.”