BILL NO. 7
3rd Session, 63rd General Assembly
70 Elizabeth II, 2021
Private Member's Bill
Healthcare Ombudsman Act
First Reading: March 11, 2021
WHEREAS Nova Scotians are concerned about fair and equitable access to healthcare services;
AND WHEREAS some patients and seniors are forced to make healthcare decisions without the support of loved ones;
AND WHEREAS some patients and seniors are not fully equipped to make healthcare decisions due to temporary incapacity or a lack of informed consent;
AND WHEREAS issues of abuse and neglect in residential care facilities and nursing homes need to be addressed;
AND WHEREAS a healthcare ombudsman will act as an advocate and can provide recourse for patients and seniors who have been ignored or harmed by the healthcare system;
THEREFORE be it enacted by the Governor and Assembly as follows:
1 This Act may be cited as the Healthcare Ombudsman Act.
2 In this Act,
(a) "Healthcare Ombudsman" means the Healthcare Ombudsman appointed under this Act;
(b) "healthcare system" includes residential care facilities and nursing homes licensed under the Homes for Special Care Act;
(c) "House" means the House of Assembly;
(d) "selection committee" means the committee established under subsection 4(1).
3 Subject to Section 11, there is hereby established, as an officer of the House, a commissioner for investigations into the healthcare system for the Province to be called the Healthcare Ombudsman.
4 (1) In the case of a vacancy in the office of the Healthcare Ombudsman or upon the expiration of the term of the Healthcare Ombudsman, a committee of the House, consisting of three members of the governing party and one from each of two opposition parties, shall prepare and report with all convenient speed a listing of a minimum of three potential candidates to fill the office.
(2) The Healthcare Ombudsman shall be appointed by the Governor in Council from among the listing provided by the selection committee.
5 Before commencing the duties of the office, the Healthcare Ombudsman shall take an oath to faithfully and impartially perform the duties of the office and not divulge any information received under this Act except for the purpose of giving effect to this Act.
6 The Healthcare Ombudsman holds office for a period of five years and may be reappointed.
7 The Healthcare Ombudsman shall
(a) ensure the rights and interests of patients and seniors are protected, their views are heard and they have access to appropriate healthcare services;
(b) provide advice to the Government and communities about the availability, effectiveness, responsiveness and relevance of healthcare services; and
(c) review and investigate matters affecting the rights of patients and seniors.
8 The Healthcare Ombudsman may
(a) receive, review and investigate matters relating to patients and seniors, with or without a formal complaint;
(b) advocate or mediate on behalf of a patient or senior;
(c) conduct an investigation when mediation and advocacy does not result in an outcome satisfactory to the Healthcare Ombudsman;
(d) inform the public about the needs and rights of patients and seniors;
(e) provide information about the office of the Healthcare Ombudsman; and
(f) make recommendations to the Government respecting policies and best practices.
9 Notwithstanding Section 5, the Healthcare Ombudsman may disclose in a report made pursuant to this Act any matters, which in the Healthcare Ombudsman’s opinion, are necessary to disclose in order to establish the grounds for the conclusions and recommendations made in the report.
10 (1) The Healthcare Ombudsman shall report annually to the House on the matters assigned under this Act.
(2) The Healthcare Ombudsman, in the public interest or in the interest of a person, department of Government or municipal unit, may publish reports relating generally to the matters assigned under this Act or to any particular case investigated by the Healthcare Ombudsman, whether or not the matters to be dealt with in the report have been the subject of a report made to the House under this Act.
11 The money required for the purpose of this Act must be paid out of money appropriated for that purpose by the Legislature.
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