[38] Bill 22 Original (PDF)

Bill 22 2003

An Act to promote
patients' rights


The Canada Health Act declares that the primary objective of Canadian health care policy is to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada through a public health care system, and asserts five commanding principles to ensure access to health care services is guaranteed to all without financial or other barriers. Those five principles are accessibility, universality, portability, comprehensiveness, and public administration and funding.

Because health care policy in Ontario has the same primary objective with respect to residents of Ontario, access to health care services in Ontario is a social right.

It is important to recognize that this primary objective is equally applicable at every stage of life and in every sector of Ontario's health care system. It is just as important in the growing areas of community services, long-term care and public health as in more traditional forms of health care delivery in hospitals and physicians' offices.

To ensure equality of access and quality of outcome, it is desirable to extend the five principles of the Canada Health Act to the delivery of all health care services. It is also desirable to increase accountability in Ontario's health care system and to establish the rights and obligations of participants more clearly.

Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:


1.  In this Act,

"Commissioner" means the Health Care Standards Commissioner appointed under section 3; ("commissaire")

"health care services" includes,

(a) professional services provided by persons who are members as defined in the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991,

(b) community support services as defined in the Long-Term Care Act, 1994,

(c) anything that is done for a therapeutic, preventive, palliative, diagnostic or other health-related purpose. ("services de soins de santé")

Patients' Bill of Rights

Patients' Bill of Rights

2.  (1)  Every resident of Ontario has the following rights:

1. The right to receive all necessary health care services in a health care system that,

i. is accessible, universal, comprehensive and publicly administered and funded,

ii. offers freedom of choice,

iii. provides timely treatment,

iv. does not allow personal income to determine access to health care services, and

v. recognizes that every provider of health care services is a valued member of a multidisciplinary health care team.

2. The right to give or refuse consent to the provision of health care services.

3. The right to all information necessary to make fully informed health care choices, including information about who will provide particular services and about the qualifications of those providers.

4. The right to receive publicly funded health care of high quality in the home and in the community as well as in health care facilities.

5. The right to receive information, whether in a health care facility or in the community, about choices that promote good health and measures that prevent illness and accident.

6. The right to be dealt with by health care service providers,

i. with courtesy and respect,

ii. in a manner that recognizes individual dignity and privacy and promotes individual autonomy,

iii. in a manner that recognizes and responds to individual needs and preferences, including those based on ethnic, spiritual, linguistic, familial and cultural factors,

iv. without mental, physical, sexual or financial abuse.

7. The right to participate in any assessment of personal care requirements and in the development of plans for care.

8. The right to make complaints, raise concerns and recommend changes without fear of interference, coercion, discrimination or reprisal.

9. The right to be informed of,

i. the laws, rules and policies affecting providers of health care services, and

ii. the procedures for initiating complaints about providers of health care services.

10. The right to confidentiality of health care records in accordance with the law.


(2)  Subsection (1) may be referred to as the Patients' Bill of Rights.

Health Care Standards Commissioner


3.  (1)  A Health Care Standards Commissioner shall be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, on the address of the Assembly.

Officer of the Legislature

(2)  The Commissioner is an officer of the Legislature.


(3)  The Commissioner has the following functions:

1. To promote understanding of and compliance with the Patients' Bill of Rights.

2. To participate with the colleges of the regulated health professions and with organizations representing patients, health care workers, hospitals, long-term care facilities, community care access centres, community and group health centres and public health units in the development of standards of care, clinical best practices and standards for health facility management.

3. To monitor the standards and practices referred to in paragraph 2 and to publish reports on such standards and practices, including their enforcement.

4. To review annual reports made to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care under the Ministry of Health Appeal and Review Boards Act, 1998 and to make recommendations to the Minister in connection with the subject-matter of the reports.

5. To make recommendations to the Legislature for improvements to be made to the laws and policies that govern health care services.

6. To advise providers of health care services on the establishment of complaints procedures.

7. To take action under section 4 (whistleblowers' protection).

8. To report to the Legislature annually.

Whistleblowers' Protection


4.  (1)  The purposes of this section are,

(a) to protect employees of providers of health care services from adverse employment action for disclosing allegations of non-compliance with the Patients' Bill of Rights or a health care standard; and

(b) to provide a means for making those allegations public.


(2)  An employee of a health care service provider may disclose to the Commissioner information that is obtained in the course of his or her employment and that the employee is otherwise required to keep confidential, for either or both of the following purposes:

1. To seek advice about the employee's rights and obligations.

2. To allow the information to be made public, if the employee believes that it may be in the public interest to do so.

Review, investigation and report

(3)  The Commissioner shall review information disclosed to him or her under subsection (2) and may,

(a) investigate the matter, if of the opinion that it is appropriate to do so; and

(b) if the investigation reveals probable non-compliance with the Patients' Bill of Rights or with a health care standard, publish a report of the results of the investigation.

Patient confidentiality

(4)  The Commissioner shall ensure that no identifying information about a patient is disclosed as a result of the Commissioner's activities under subsection (3).

No adverse employment action

(5)  No provider of health care services or person acting on behalf of such a provider shall take adverse employment action against an employee because the employee has, acting in good faith, disclosed information under subsection (2).

Communication of information

5.  (1)  Copies of the Patients' Bill of Rights and of section 4 of this Act (whistleblowers' protection) shall be posted in conspicuous locations in every health facility and in the place of business of every provider of health care services.


(2)  Copies of the Patients' Bill of Rights shall be communicated by community care access centres to all persons receiving home care or community support services.


6.  This Act comes into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.

Short title

7.  The short title of this Act is the Tommy Douglas Act (Patients' Bill of Rights), 2003.


The Bill codifies the rights of residents of Ontario who receive health care services, in the form of a Patients' Bill of Rights.

The Bill provides for the appointment of a Health Care Standards Commissioner (an officer of the Legislature) who will perform functions such as participating in the setting of health care standards and the development of complaints procedures, monitoring health care standards and making recommendations to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and to the Legislature.

The Bill establishes whistleblower protection for the employees of providers of health care services.

The Bill requires conspicuous posting of copies of the Patients' Bill of Rights and of the whistleblower protection provisions.