Ontario hospitals given power to transfer patients to long-term care/retirement homes without consent in bid to boost capacity

Nearly 900 COVID-19 patients in Ontario are being treated in ICUs.

To make room for COVID-19 patients, the Ford government has issued an emergency order which gives Ontario hospitals additional powers that will allow them to transfer chronically ill patients to long-term care homes/retirement homes without their consent.

Health Minister Christine Elliott told a media briefing Wednesday this temporary emergency order would apply to patients whose doctors have determined no longer require hospital care and could be better supported in a more appropriate setting in a long-term care or retirement home.

“This would be done in only the most urgent of situations,” said Elliott. “when a hospital is at a risk of becoming overwhelmed. We will ensure patients or their substitute decision-makers will have the opportunity to be actively involved.”

She said hospitals may rely upon this order only when absolutely necessary to respond to a major surge event, and when the attending physician is satisfied that the patient will receive the care they require in their new setting.

On Wednesday, the health ministry reported there are 2,281 COVID-19 patients at Ontario hospitals and 877 of those patients are in intensive care units.

“I want to emphasize that these patients are often waiting to receive care in another setting. The most appropriate care for them is not always in a hospital bed,” explained Elliott. “These transfers would only be made when medical professionals are confident they will not compromise the patient’s medical condition, and after full consideration of any ethnocultural or language concerns.”

She said any patient who is transferred to a long-term care home that is not their first choice will continue to maintain their place in line for their first choice.

The government has waived the co-payment for hospital patients with a destination of long-term care who are transferred to a long-term care home that is not their first choice until they transfer to their first-choice home or decide to stay in their current home. Similarly, the retirement home’s care and accommodation costs to the individual will be waived until they receive a placement offer from their first-choice long-term care home. Funding will be provided to the retirement home from the government.