Today, on September 25, 2023, the Integrated Community Health Services Centres Act (“ICHSCA”) and its General Regulation, O. Reg. 215/23, come into force. The Independent Health Facilities Act, 1990 (“IHFA”) and its regulations are repealed. The ICHSCA brings important changes that impact health facilities, certain regulatory Colleges and the public.
Snapshot of Bill 60
On May 18, 2023, Bill 60, also known as Your Health Act, 2023 (“Bill 60”), received Royal Assent. Bill 60 makes notable changes for health facilities and regulatory Colleges in Ontario.
Bill 60 has three schedules. Schedule 1 of Bill 60 enacts the ICHSCA and, at the same time, repeals the IHFA, the regulations made under the IHFA, and the Oversight of Health Facilities and Devices Act, 2017. Schedule 2 makes amendments to several acts related to regulated professions. Schedule 3 amends the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
This article focuses on selected highlights related to Schedule 1 of Bill 60.
Under the IHFA, an “independent health facility” was defined as a health facility in which the public receives services for or in respect of which facility fees are charged or paid, or a health facility or a class of health facilities designated as independent health facilities by the Minister.
Under the ICHSCA, an “integrated community health services centre” is defined as a health facility, including a community surgical and diagnostic centre, in which the public receives services for or in respect of which facility costs are charged or paid, or a health facility, including a community surgical and diagnostic centre, or a class of health facilities, prescribed by the regulations.
Requirement for Connected and Convenient Care
Like its predecessor, the ICHSCA continues to require that centres apply for a license before they can be designated as an integrated community health services centre.
A new requirement under the ICHSCA is that centres must identify how they will provide “connected and convenient care”. This includes how the centre will improve patient wait times, improve access to care and integrate their services with the health system. Additionally, the application must include a description of how the proposed integrated community health services centre will address the health equity needs of diverse, vulnerable, priority and underserviced populations, considering linguistic needs, in the region specified in the call for applications.
Changes to Exemptions
A number of health facilities continue to be exempt from the ICHSCA. These include a facility designated as a psychiatric facility, a long-term care home, a home for special care, or an institution, building or other premises or place that has been approved to be operated or used for the purposes of a hospital under the Public Hospitals Act.
The General Regulation made under the ICHSCA introduces exemptions for the University of Ottawa Heart Institute/Institut de cardiologie de l’Université d’Ottawa as well as houses used as private hospitals under appropriate licence issued pursuant to the Private Hospitals Act.
Further, the ICHSCA does not apply if a service is provided by a member of the College of Chiropodists of Ontario who is a podiatrist, a member of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, or a member of the College of Optometrists of Ontario.
Regulators as Inspecting Bodies
The General Regulation made under the ICHSCA prescribes the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and the College of Midwives of Ontario as inspecting bodies under the ICHSCA. (Note that these two regulatory Colleges previously acted as assessors which carried out assessments of the quality and the standards of services provided by independent health facilities under the IHFA). Under the ICHSCA, the inspecting bodies are tasked with a range of responsibilities which are set out in section 43(3) of the ICHSCA.
Consistent with the regulations made under the IHFA, the General Regulation made under the ICHSCA requires that licensed health centres implement quality assurance processes. The same requirements for a Quality Advisor and Advisory Committee continue to be enforced.
Another fundamental change introduced by the ICHSCA is the requirement for licensed centres to process patient complaints. The ICHSCA requires that complaints be appropriately investigated in a timely manner, that the centre maintain a “complaints record”, and that complaints are appropriately reported to the Director responsible for integrated community health service centres.
Please stay tuned for additional updates on the implementation of Bill 60.
The information and comments herein are for the general information of the reader and are not intended as advice or opinion to be relied upon in relation to any particular circumstances. For particular application of the law to specific situations, the reader should seek professional advice.