TORONTO — Ontario's Progressive Conservative government has passed legislation that would force hospital patients awaiting long-term care into nursing homes not of their choosing on a temporary basis.
But Premier Doug Ford says patients who refuse to move will not be charged an uninsured rate of $1,800 per day.
The province has pushed through Bill 7 quickly as part of its efforts to deal with an ongoing health-care crisis, moving earlier this week to bypass public hearings on the legislation.
Emergency departments have been closed for hours or days at a time in recent months, largely due to a nursing shortage.
The province believes sending patients who need an "alternate level of care" to long-term care homes will help ease the burden on hospitals.
Hospitals can already charge these patients a co-pay of $62 per day, which advocates say is roughly what they would be paying in long-term care.
The new legislation doesn't allow patients to be physically forced to move to a long-term care home, but it's not clear what would happen if a patient refuses a transfer.
Long-Term Care Minister Paul Calandra has said patients should be charged if they refuse to move to long-term care, but hasn't said how much.
Senior and long-term care advocates have said hospital uninsured rates could be upwards of $1,800 per day.
On the eve of the bill passing, Ford said that amount is "absolutely ridiculous."
He said hospitals and Ontario Health are determining the cost patients would have to pay.
"I can pretty well guarantee it's not gonna be $1,800," Ford said Wednesday night after a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that focused on health care as the top priority.
"We just want these patients to go into a proper environment that is just better for them."
The province has said those costs will likely be made public next week.
The province says there are about 6,000 patients in hospital who require an "alternate level of care" and should be discharged from hospital. Among those patients, about 1,800 are on a waiting list for long-term care homes, the province said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2022.
The Canadian Press