Skip to content

NDP try again to make Ontario top doc independent

France Gélinas is one of the MPPs trying to have the top public health doctor named not beholden to any government
2022-01-03 kieran moore 1
Dr. Kieran Moore is Ontario's current Chief Medical Officer of Health. He's seen here at a press conference on Monday, January 3, 2022. (Photo/Screenshot)

Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) should have no perceived ties to the governing party in the Ontario Legislature, said Official Opposition health critic France Gélinas.

Gélinas has partnered with New Democrat MPP Bhutila Karpoche (Parkdale-High Park) to table a private member’s bill that would make the chief medical officer an independent officer of the Ontario Legislature.

Currently in Ontario, the CMOH is accountable to both the governing Minister of Health and to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Ontario is the only province in Canada where this is the case, said a new release from the New Democrats on Monday.

If their bill is passed, the Public Health Accountability Act (In Honour of Dr. Sheela Basrur) would also strike a select committee in the event of a public health emergency. The committee would provide a forum for elected officials to ask questions of and hear directly from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, said the release.

Gélinas said the idea is to have a chief medical officer who is independent enough that they can share important information with the public during any sort of a medical crisis.

“Clear communication and transparency from public health officials is critical during a public health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gélinas. 

“Complete independence is the only way we can guarantee the province’s chief medical officer of health is empowered to share information directly with the public as needed to keep people healthy and safe.”

Guaranteeing the independence of the Chief Medical Officer of Health was one of the recommendations to come out of the SARS report. The bill is named in honour of the late Dr. Sheela Basrur, who served as Ontario’s CMOH after serving as Toronto’s top doctor during SARS, said the release. 

“Let’s not let another public health emergency pass by without putting lessons from SARS into action,” said Karpoche. “Making Ontario’s top doctor totally independent will help ensure people receive and trust the best possible public health advice.”

This is the second time Gélinas has tabled this bill. She brought it forward as Bill 227 for the first time in 2020, during the last sitting of the house, but it was not successfully passed by the legislature.