Bill 83 2003
An Act to provide
for a public inquiry
to examine the outbreak of
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
in the Province of Ontario
In 2003, the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Ontario resulted in at least 30 deaths, hundreds of people becoming seriously ill, and thousands more being quarantined. Allegations have been raised surrounding the Provincial Government's management of our health care system both during the crisis and in the years since 1995, resulting in a lack of surge capacity and infection control capability. Decisions regarding our health human resources capability may also have resulted in an inability to respond appropriately, including decisions that resulted in almost half of Ontario's nurses working in part-time or casual jobs, at multiple sites, rather than in full-time permanent positions. Downloading and cuts to funding of public health units may have affected the ability to respond to SARS and to continue to provide other important programs during the outbreak. Lack of leadership and inadequate support for health care services on the part of the Federal Government may also have contributed to the difficulty in responding to SARS. A change in definitions, inconsistent with those used by the World Health Organization - to identify cases of SARS or suspected cases of SARS may have downplayed the extent of the outbreak. These and other matters have raised concerns among many Ontarians. Health care workers fear for their jobs and are demanding the full whistle-blower protection a public inquiry will provide.
Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:
Appointment of Commission
1. (1) Within 60 days after this Act comes into force, the Premier of Ontario shall recommend to the Lieutenant Governor in Council that a Commission be appointed under section 2 of the Public Inquiries Act,
(a) to inquire into and report on events surrounding the outbreak and management of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Ontario; and
(b) to make recommendations directed to the avoidance of similar outbreaks and the strengthening of Ontario's capacity to respond to such outbreaks.
Commission's term of office
(2) The Commission shall hold office until three months after the Commission's final report is submitted to the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
Removal for cause
(3) The Commission is removable at any time for cause by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the address of the Assembly.
Powers of Commission
2. Part III of the Public Inquiries Act applies to the Commission and to the inquiry.
Timing of inquiry
3. The Commission shall begin the inquiry within 60 days after being appointed.
4. (1) The Commission shall submit an interim report to the Lieutenant Governor in Council within six months after the inquiry begins.
(2) The Commission shall submit a final report to the Lieutenant Governor in Council within 12 months after the inquiry begins.
Report to be made public
(3) The Commission shall make the final report public within 10 days after submitting it to the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
Time limits may be extended
5. The Lieutenant Governor in Council may extend the time limits for submitting the interim and final reports, and may extend the term of office of the Commission.
6. This Act comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.
7. The short title of this Act is the SARS Inquiry Act, 2003.
The Bill requires the Premier to recommend to the Lieutenant Governor in Council that a Commission be appointed to inquire into and report on the outbreak of SARS, and to make recommendations directed to the avoidance of similar diseases in similar circumstances. The Commission is given powers under the Public Inquiries Act. Once the inquiry begins, the Commission must make an interim report in six months, and a final report in 12 months.