Stronger Protections for Seniors
For the first time in provincial history, Ontario is proposing legislative protections for seniors living in retirement homes.
The proposed Retirement Homes Act, 2010 would, if passed, require retirement homes to comply with care and safety standards, establish a regulatory authority to ensure homes meet the standards, and create and protect residents' rights.
RETIREMENT HOMES REGULATORY AUTHORITY
The proposed regulatory authority would have the power to:
- Issue licenses to homes that meet criteria and standards set out by legislation and regulations;
- Create a public registry that lists all homes across the province, the services they provide and inspection reports; and
- Conduct regular inspections, investigations and enforcement activities, including issuing orders or financial penalties, prosecuting offences or revoking licenses if necessary.
Responsibilities of Registrar, Risk Officer and Complaints Review Officer
The authority would be required to hire a Registrar, a Risk Officer and a Complaints Review Officer.
The Registrar would deal with concerns and complaints about the care and safety of residents in retirement homes, issue licenses for retirement homes and issue compliance orders and financial penalties to retirement homes.
The Risk Officer would provide an independent review of the regulatory authority and report annually and publicly on how the authority has managed its responsibilities.
Complaints Review Officer
Residents of retirement homes who are unhappy with the response or the decision of the Registrar in dealing with their complaints could ask to the Complaints Review Officer for a review of how the complaint was handled.
Accountability and Oversight
The proposed legislation would help ensure accountability and oversight of the authority by:
- Ensuring government approval of the fee setting process;
- Setting out the structure of the permanent Board, ensuring broad representation; and
- Requiring government approval of the code of ethics, dealing with conflict of interests, political activity, and disclosure of wrong-doing.
CARE AND SAFETY STANDARDS
All homes would be required to:
- Have emergency plans and infection control and prevention programs;
- Meet standards for initial and ongoing assessment of residents' care needs and care planning; and
- Conduct police background checks and training for staff.
The proposed legislation would establish residents' rights that would include:
- The right to a plain language contract;
- The right to form a Resident's Council;
- Reinforcing the right to know true cost of care and accommodation and advance notice of change to services;
- Information about access to outside care providers, without interference from the home;
- The right to live in a safe and clean environment where residents are treated with courtesy and respect; and
- The right to raise concerns or recommend changes in care or services to the authority or any other person without interference and without fear or coercion, discrimination or reprisal from the retirement home operator or staff.