Lack of civility as opinions differ

This week OHA CEO Tom Closson wrote to a number of groups opposing the recent “hospital secrecy law” (Schedule 15 of Bill 173) that will allow the Ontario Hospitals to shield specific quality information from the public.

Given Schedule 15 had alredy been amended — presumably to the OHA’s approval — it is questionable as to the purpose of Closson’s sudden enthusiasm for letter writing. The actual amendment passed at the legislature’s finance and economic affairs committee Thursday morning.

What is most surprising from Closson’s letter-writing is his accusations that public interest groups were attempting to “grossly mislead” the public about the meaning of the Bill. The letters, all posted the OHA’s website, manage to insult the community organizations in a way we haven’t quite seen before.

He says Cybil Sack (Impatient4Change) “took significant liberties with the facts…while also making derogatory comments about hospitals, their leaders, and the professionals who work in them.” He further writes “it is apparent from your note that you believe the people who work in hospitals spend their days devising new ways to stifle public debate.”

To many of the organizations – including the Ontario Health Coalition, the Registered Nurses Association and the Service Employees International Union, he says he is writing to “rebut the grossly inaccurate claims.” He finishes all the letters with “on an issue as important as Ontarians’ health and safety, the “facts optional” approach your organization has taken to date is simply irresponsible. Ontarians deserve better.”

If these submissions were full of factual errors and misleading commentary, one might understand. Closson’s rebuttals fail to point out much in the way of factual error, but instead revisits the OHA’s original argumentation around the need for the schedule and takes issue with some of the intervenor’s interpretation of the role of the Quality of Care Information Act.

To suggest on this basis that anybody is trying to “grossly mislead” is a bit much. It also calls into question the OHA’s attitude towards public engagement.

By any interpretation, the government has opened the door to hospital transparency, and closed it to a degree with this amendment to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation. That’s a fact.

Closson is not the only one getting in on the act of incivility.

Georgina Thompson, Chair of the South East LHIN, recently told the media that prior to the LHIN’s recent Road Map plan, hospitals “talked to each other but they didn’t play together in the sandbox well.”

We could be wrong, but some hospitals may take umbrage to their characterization as children who got straightened out by the LHIN.

It’s been a long cold and wet spring. Here’s hoping that with a bit of better weather we can all go back to debating health care policy without this kind of nasty rancour.

Oh, and Tom – no need to reply.

3 responses to “Lack of civility as opinions differ

  1. rennie Marshall

    Take a look at the composition of the OHA. They are a constituency that may not believe it would be well severed by real and open transparency and it is no surprise that some would prefer the modified or perhaps a better word is controlled transparency ( an oxy moron at best) that is now on the table.
    After all , it is part of the job of a CEO to ensure that the hospital image remains positive and the reality is that not everything in a hospital is positive – it is the nature of the beast.
    When are we going to stop trying to “spin” hospitals as if they are the holiday inn. Nobody wants to be in one, nobody likes the food and nobody is going to stay in one a second longer than they need to.
    Transparency and accountability go hand in hand – you can’t have one without the other and as history has shown our hospitals must be accountable. Our very lives depend on it.

  2. I have never in all my years as a Health Care provider experienced the nastiness of a C.E.O. of the OHA towards concerned citizens trying to bring to the attention of the Powers that Be how their flawed policies affect us where we live and in so vital an area as life and death as well as well being. Do we live in a Dictatorship? What is the release of aggregate Quality statistics to do with fear of being found out that mistakes are being made. Shouldn’t best practices be shared and used to improve outcomes? We always used to do this with the OHA as the facilitator. They have chosen not to help Hospitals improve their performance.

  3. See our response to Mr. Closson and his rhetoric:

    More truth about OHA’s truth (pt. 2): – response to letter by Closson

    The truth about OHA’s truth (pt. 1): – response to Closson’s statement “The truth about FOI…”

    His allegations and arguments just don’t stand up to scrutiny.

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