LHIN excludes public from August board meeting despite Ombudsman’s report

It’s hard to fathom the Central East Local Health Integration Network.

A week after the Ombudsman’s report criticizing inappropriate closed-door sessions at the Hamilton-area LHIN, the CE LHIN has decided to hold its August board meeting entirely in camera. While they call this a “special meeting,” there is no other open board meeting scheduled for the month.

Before the board can do this, a motion to exclude the public must clearly state the nature of the matter to be considered at the closed meeting and the general reasons why the public is being excluded.

On the CE LHIN web site it states: “Please be aware that the Board will enter into an in-camera session as per Section 9(5) of the Local Health System Integration Act (LHSIA). A report on the closed session will occur at the open Board meeting scheduled for September 22, 2010.”

Section 9 (5) of LHSIA states that a location health integration network may exclude the public from any part of a meeting under a number of specific circumstances. These range from matters of public security to discussions of litigation. The LHIN does not offer which of these reasons it is using to exclude the public.

At the end of each LHIN board meeting Chair Foster Loucks usually invokes Section 9 (5). Despite OPSEU attending many CE LHIN meetings, we have never witnessed any debate on this, nor have we been given any general reasons for excluding the public. Often, the closed sessions don’t even have a heading on the agenda beyond “closed session.”

Does this satisfy the requirement to “clearly state the nature of the matter to be considered” or provide “the general reasons why the public is being excluded?” Not likely.

The CE LHIN must have read the Ombudsman’s Report. It’s only 40 pages. We know the Ministry and the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN have had a preliminary draft since 2009. The final report has been public since August 10. (OPSEU President Smokey Thomas comments on the issue this month:  http://www.opseu.org/presidentsmessage/aug-16-2010.htm )

It is possible that the entire August board meeting is dealing with appropriate confidential issues permitted under LHSIA. However, we don’t know that. We have no clues as to what will be discussed, even in the broadest terms.

Coming on the heels of the Ombudsman’s Report, the optics are terrible. One has to question whether this is a case of really bad timing, or whether like the HNHB LHIN, the CE LHIN is showing some level of defiance to Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin’s report?

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