Ontario won’t fine facilities for violating health care regulations

Ontario is determined to protect its patients from mandatory double-booking in the aftermath of the nation’s 2009 swine flu outbreak, so the government will not be issuing fines to the province’s long-term care homes…

Ontario won’t fine facilities for violating health care regulations

Ontario is determined to protect its patients from mandatory double-booking in the aftermath of the nation’s 2009 swine flu outbreak, so the government will not be issuing fines to the province’s long-term care homes for violating provincial health and safety regulations, the province’s chief coroner announced on Tuesday.

The province will instead explore more easily accessible ways to keep residents out of long-term care if they want to avoid double-booking the facility, Norman Hackett told a provincial health care conference in Toronto.

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Read more: Saskatchewan proposes similar rules, but what if you want to avoid long-term care?

Related: Canada’s response to the pandemic of 2009 just won’t go away

Ontario’s chief coroner says his office won’t issue fines for swine flu violations https://t.co/Vik2iqcL1I pic.twitter.com/FtwB3du1Ue — Jim Bronskill (@jimbronskill) January 16, 2019

Ontario will no longer issue fines of up to $2,000 per violation of basic health and safety regulations, such as overcrowding, Mr. Hackett said. “The penalties aren’t going to be there, but the idea that [singling out] an institution [for fine-giving] could deter others from wanting to cheat or to do something inappropriate is important,” he said.

The coroner’s comments were made at a conference of the Canadian Association of Health Care Administrators. The government asked the association to help devise the measures to address the alleged breach of nursing-home regulations, which was probed in the wake of the 2009 influenza pandemic that killed 653 people across Canada and killed 19 in Ontario.

Ontario’s long-term care homes can only accept one patient each, but it was alleged that some had double-booked residents. The province will also be working with the province’s chief coroner’s office, as well as health authorities and health professors from around the province, to develop guidelines on how to respond to such practices in the future, the coroner said.

On Friday, the British Columbia chief coroner called for an overhaul of the province’s record-keeping system to make it easier to enforce record-keeping and management standards across health-care facilities.

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The pandemic left the federal government to manage its own health-care emergency. Prime Minister Stephen Harper eventually asked the previous chief coroner in Ottawa to investigate his government’s failure to respond adequately to the outbreak.

The findings ultimately exonerated the government of any wrongdoing, but the auditor-general later found that the recommendations contained in the chief coroner’s report would not have made a difference to the situation at the time of the pandemic.

Not all health providers are confident in the province’s ability to identify breaches of basic health and safety regulations.

“We believe there needs to be further regulation to have the service providers that can report violations of the safety rules … knowing that they’ll be held accountable by the government and the courts in case something does happen,” said David Stewart, vice-president of operations for the Association of Licensed Professional Nurses of Ontario, which represents more than 40,000 nurses in private and public settings across the province.

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