Law & Governance

Law & Governance November -0001 : 0-0

Bill 27, Tommy Douglas Act (Patients' Bill of Rights), 2002

Kathy O'Brien and Susan Davidson


The purpose of this Communiqué is to advise you of issues raised by newly introduced legislation Bill 27, which was essentially defeated by the Conservative Government on May 30, 2002. Bill 27 was a Private Members' Bill (introduced by New Democratic Party M.P.P., Shelley Martel), not a Government-sponsored Bill.
Bill 27 -the Tommy Douglas Act (Patients' Bill of Rights), 2002 - would have instituted a Patients' Bill of Rights in Ontario, created a mechanism for establishing and enforcing provincial health care standards and provided "whistleblower" protection for workers who report failures in the health care system.

Instituting a patients' bill of rights and "whistleblower protection" for health care employees were also key recommendations ofThe Report of the Manitoba Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Inquest: An Inquiry into Twelve Deaths at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre in 1994.

It will be interesting to watch whether these concepts resurface in government-sponsored legislation - perhaps in conjunction with accountability legislation - over the upcoming months.

Highlights of Bill 27
The Patients' Bill of Rights would have provided all residents of Ontario with a variety of rights, including the right:

  • to receive all necessary health care services in a timely manner;
  • to give or refuse consent to health care service provision;
  • to receive high quality publicly funded health care at home (via CCACs) or in the community (via other community agencies) as well as in health facilities;
  • to receive information relevant to making fully informed health care choices and promoting good health;
  • to be treated with dignity and respect by health care providers;
  • to make complaints without fear of discrimination or reprisal;
  • to be informed of laws, rules and policies that affect health care providers; and
  • to confidentiality with respect to personal health information.

Bill 27 also proposed to establish a Health Care Standards Commissioner who would be responsible for promoting the Patients' Bill of Rights, educating people on it and ensuring that employees of health care providers are not disadvantaged for reporting breaches of the Bill. The Commissioner would also set clinical standards of care and standards for the management of health care facilities. However, the Bill did not establish a new avenue of complaint for patients beyond the complaint processes available through the colleges of the various health professions.

It is important to note that many of the rights - such as the right to consent to treatment and to confidentiality - in the Patients' Bill of Rights are already provided for in other statutes, including the Health Care Consent Act, the Public Hospitals Act and the Canada Health Act. However, Bill 27 aimed to gather these, and other newly entrenched rights, in one document that would be available and accessible to all Ontario residents.


If you have any questions, please call either Kathy O'Brien at 416 860 6516 or Susan Davidson 416 860 6552.


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