Public Interest Duty Should Stop Shouldice Sale
Can Ontario’s Minister of Health, Deb Mathews, stop the transfer of the Shouldice Clinic to the health care conglomerate, Centric? Absolutely, it is within her powers under the Private Hospitals Act: as a friend of mine said, “they wrote better laws 50 years ago.”
The Private Hospitals Act mandates that the Minister stop the transfer of a private hospital where the new owners do not have the “good character and fitness” to manage and operate a private hospital. The Minister, if she was to do due diligence, something all ministers should do, could also use wording which says that each director and officer of the corporation has to have the character to manage, operate and be associated with a private hospital. The Ministry’s staff would be ideally suited to undertake the research, including delving into the pasts of the directors with international backgrounds.
The easiest and most responsible grounds for the Minister to refuse to transfer Shouldice’s license to Centric is her obligation under the Act to protect the public interest. The Private Hospitals Act includes in the public interest, “the proper management of the health care system in general and the availability of financial resources for the management of the health care system and for the delivery of health care services.”
This definition is broad enough to base a decision on the evidence that the use of for-profit companies costs more, increases mortality, adds to the complexity of the system and hinders integration: problems compounded by the fact that Centric is linked to an international health conglomerate whose primary corporate strategy is growth through acquisitions and mergers.
There are numerous legal options available to the Minister to stop the transfer of the Shouldice Clinic to Centric: a questionable corporation, dubious directors and/or the public interest. The best would be if she defended the public’s interest in having a strong public health care system, a fact recognized by the liberals in their election commitment to limit for-profit community hospital services.
A copy of the Private Hospitals Act can be found at:Independent Health Facilities, Uncategorized comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.