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Seven people fined $400 a day for refusing LTC transfers: Ontario government

Seven people in Ontario have been fined for refusing transfers from a hospital to a long-term care home not of their choosing. The emergency sign of a Toronto hospital is photographed on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Lupul

TORONTO — Seven people in Ontario have been fined for refusing transfers from a hospital to a long-term care home not of their choosing.

A law enacted in 2022 requires hospitals to levy fines of $400 a day on patients who can be discharged but need long-term care and are refusing to go to a home selected for them by a placement co-ordinator.

The government has long said it was not aware of anyone being fined, with Long-Term Care Minister Stan Cho saying as much as recently as two weeks ago.

Hannah Jensen, a spokesperson for Health Minister Sylvia Jones, now says that seven people have been fined but the ministry was not aware of those cases.

If a fine is issued, a care co-ordinator at a hospital is required to report it to Home and Community Care Support Services, which is then required to report that information to Ontario Health, Jensen wrote in a statement.

"Ontario Health and Ontario Health Regional Officer should have been reporting these instances of charges to the Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Long-Term Care," she wrote. "This last step was not being completed."

Jensen was not immediately able to say when each of those people were fined, if any of them are still being charged $400 daily, or the total amount of their fines.

NDP Leader Marit Stiles called the explanation a "flimsy" excuse.

"Ontarians aren’t buying it," she wrote in a statement. "More vulnerable people will be put in this situation if the government doesn’t get rid of a law that we in the NDP, experts and families have been telling them is flat-out cruel."

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner was not impressed by the explanation either.

"This is a clumsy attempt from the Ford government to sidestep responsibility for Bill 7 because they know it’s a heartless and deeply unpopular piece of legislation that fails to solve the healthcare crisis," he wrote in a statement.

Liberal long-term care critic John Fraser said if the government was actually interested in tracking the impacts of its law, it would have.

"If they were really concerned about that happening then the minister's office would have been right on top of it," he said. 

"They know who to ask ... what they were just hoping is it would all go away, that nobody would notice."

The information that fines have been issued comes shortly after The Canadian Press reported that nearly 300 patients had been moved to long-term care homes not of their choosing. The law, known as Bill 7, can see those patients placed in homes up to 70 kilometres away — or 150 kilometres if they are in northern Ontario — without their consent.

Those people ultimately moved to a long-term care home they did not consent to be in, but the seven people who were fined would have refused to leave the hospital.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 3, 2024.

Allison Jones and Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

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