Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas has slammed LifeLabs for taking too long to provide medical test results. Gélinas said LifeLabs "offers terrible customer service" in her Northern Ontario jurisdiction.
LifeLabs is a for-profit Canadian company that provides medical and diagnostic testing on a contract basis to the provincial government.
Gélinas, who is also the Official Opposition health critic, spoke in the Ontario Legislature Tuesday to express concern that a cancer patient in Sudbury was waiting a long time to get the results from medical testing.
“Linda Luyt from Sudbury is an endometrial cancer survivor," Gélinas told the house. "She requires annual PAP tests by her oncology team. She had her test done on Oct. 18. Usually, it takes three, sometimes up to six weeks for the results to come in, but last week, when she called her doctor, she was told results are now taking six months to come in."
Gélinas asked Health Minister Sylvia Jones if she thought that it was acceptable for cancer patients having to wait six months to get test results.
The health minister said it only highlighted one of the reasons why the Ontario government has made a commitment to hire more health care workers and to train more workers because it was so apparent that "we did not have sufficient capacity".
Jones added that as more health care employees are being hired, gradual improvements are being seen.
Gélinas said when cancer patients are forced to wait up to six months for test results it can mean more intense follow-up treatments and often more expensive treatments. This increases the risk of harm, said Gélinas.
She said that in her riding, LifeLabs offices have minimum staffing, with minimum operating hours and there have been times that patients have had to wait in the cold.
Gélinas asked if the idea of privatizing health lab services has only made those services worse.
The health minister responded by saying the government is working to improve services. Jones said the work involves improvements provided by the partners for the Ministry of Health.
"We are not going to freeze out individuals and organizations that can be part of the solution," said Jones.