Ontario New Democrats are asking the government to broaden the provincial ombudsman’s mandate to allow him to investigate the health care sector.
The demand is the latest request the NDP is making of Premier Kathleen Wynne in exchange for supporting her minority Liberals’ budget.
The ombudsman, an independent official who probes complaints against the government, has been a thorn in the side of politicians. Among his recent investigations were a damning report about the government’s invoking of a secret law that allowed police to arbitrarily arrest people during the G20 summit in Toronto and a probe that accused the province of undermining its own police watchdog agency.
Now, the NDP wants his mandate broadened so he can investigate complaints against hospitals, ambulance services, nursing homes and other health care facilities.
“Who can a patient call when the healthcare system has failed them? If you’re in a hospital, a long-term care facility or receiving home care, there is no independent body to hear your call. But if you’re in a provincial jail, you can call the Ontario ombudsman. In fact, his number is on the payphones inside the corrections facilities,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Friday. “Let’s give seniors and families in Ontario the same right as someone in a corrections facility, to an accountable ombudsman.”
With the Progressive Conservatives vowing to vote against the Liberals’ budget, Ms. Wynne must secure Ms. Horwath’s support to avoid an election.
To that end, the Liberals have incorporated several NDP demands in the proposed budget tabled last week. These include a cut to auto insurance premiums and the elimination of a corporate tax credit for large companies.
The New Democrats are rolling out several fresh demands. They have already asked the Liberals to create an independent office to monitor government spending.
Ms. Horwath said she will finish making demands early next week and will meet with Ms. Wynne after that.
The first vote on the budget must happen before the end of the month.