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(Notice of Application for Judicial Review attached in PDF format)

On September 22, 2003 the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the Ontario Health Coalition applied to the Divisional Court of Ontario for orders quashing or prohibiting any purported approvals under the Public Hospitals Act, which relate to plans by the William Osler Health Centre and the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group to have private for-profit corporations establish, own and operate hospitals as some “public-private partnership” (P3) scheme.

The unions and citizens' coalition are also seeking a declaration from the Court that these P3 schemes involved are ultra vires the Public Hospitals Act. They will argue that the privatization of hospital infrastructure and insured health care services, whether by way of some form or P3 scheme or otherwise, is alien to and not authorized by the Public Hospitals Act.

Under the Public Hospitals Act, the management and control of the hospital and of the services provided to patients is vested in the Board of Directors of non-profit corporations accountable to the communities they serve and to the Ministry of Health, not to private for-profits corporations accountable to shareholders and investors. The applicants will argue that the Act simply does not permit the Board of a public hospital, in this case the William Osler and the Royal Ottawa hospital boards, to cede management and control of hospital infrastructure and support services to a for-profit corporation.

The unions and and the citizens' coaltion have repeatedly raised concerns about the adverse impact of the P3 model failures in other jurisdictions and service sectors. A further concern is the likelihood that investor-owned hospitals will provide a vehicle for selling various health care services to those who can afford them, thus providing the platform for building a two-tiered health care system.

However, the application to the Divisional Court focuses on the statutory and regulatory framework within which public hospitals operate in the Medicare model. It argues that by ceding control of hospital infrastructure and services to the private sector, the Minister and the hospital boards involved have undermined the accountability framework that is essential to the Public Hospital Act. This in turn raises serious concerns about the capacity of the hospitals to respond to unforseen demands, which may range from those associated with shifting demographics to emergencies such as the recent SARS outbreak.