Monday, April 18, 2011

Update to FIPPA changes in Ontario

With the new proposed legislation, originally not adopted in the fall, lawyers are advising hospitals to shred evidence. See below:  (a) cleansing existing files on or before December 31, 2011

Freedom of information regarding Ontario hospitals and physicians

Twitter is a great place to find healthcare information. While being limited to 140 characters, it is succinct. I found out what was happening to our privacy laws in Ontario healthcare.

I saw a tweet: 
 ImPatient for Change 
buried on pg31 of 146-pg budget, the govt has incl an amendment that will block public access to freedom of information requests in hospitals

Sure enough, Right2SafeCare found this:
Proposed Legislation Aims to Create Greater Public Accountability

On October 20, 2010, the Government of Ontario released proposed legislation entitled the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010 (BPSAA) in response to the concerns identified in the Auditor General’s Special Report on “Consultant Use in Selected Health Organizations.”

The proposed legislation will establish new rules that:
  • prohibit hospitals from using public funds to retain external lobbyists in order to lobby government; however, the legislation appears to expressly permit hospitals to retain lobbyists with revenues generated by the hospital (e.g. parking, retail);
  • require hospitals to report on their use of consultants;
  • require hospitals to post expenses of designated executives online;
  • enable cabinet to issue mandatory directives in respect of procurement practices;
  • require hospitals to issue compliance reports; and
  • expand the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to hospitals as of January 1, 2012.

Accordingly, hospitals will want to adopt best practices in not only responding to FIPPA requests but, equally importantly, in (a) cleansing existing files on or before December 31, 2011, subject to legislative record-keeping requirements; and (b) educating all staff including the Board of Directors, as to how they should conduct business under the FIPPA regime, particularly with respect to expenses, procurement and decision-making relating to hospital services, in order to avoid any reputational risks.  For example, the appropriate level of care must be paid to all correspondence dealing with hospital business, especially email, as it considered to be a “record” under FIPPA and subject to the public right of access. 

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