Patients must not be forced into long-term care homes, says Ontario Nurses’ Association

August 26, 2022

TORONTO, ON, August 26, 2022 – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is decrying measures in Bill 7 – More Beds, More Care Act 2022 – allowing some hospital patients to be forced to move to a long-term care home without consent, potentially violating their rights and putting patients and health-care workers in an impossible situation. It is being reported that this legislation, introduced one week ago, will not be referred to committee hearings and will be rushed through, limiting debate and engagement from stakeholders.

“Bill 7 does nothing to address the root causes of our hospital crisis in Ontario, which is a crisis of nurse and health-care staffing; it simply forces patients from one understaffed environment to another,” ONA President Cathryn Hoy, RN, says. “Even more concerning, Bill 7 threatens patients’ basic rights to freedom of choice and could result in vulnerable seniors being moved far from family and supports they rely on.”

This controversial Bill notes that, when a hospital clinician determines that a patient requires an Alternate Level of Care (ALC), the patient can be moved to a facility such as a long-term care home, regardless of the patient’s or their caregiver’s permission.

“Bill 7 will put many ONA members and placement coordinators in an impossible position, being asked by their employers to pressure families and vulnerable patients. This could violate the basic tenets of consent and bodily autonomy we are taught to uphold and defend as health-care providers, and standards required for nursing licensing,” says Hoy.

ONA is concerned that patients will be forced or coerced to enter long-term care homes where there are simply not enough nurses to care for them properly, or a record of higher death rates and poor health outcomes for residents, as devastatingly revealed during the pandemic.

“Transferring patients without consent during the pandemic was meant to be an emergency measure, but Bill 7 normalizes this practice in dangerous ways, with grave implications for patients’ rights and health outcomes which could suffer as a result of isolation and stress.”

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, industry and clinics.