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  • Writer's pictureIsaac Callan

Ford government wins battle to keep health-care staffing shortage figures secret

By Isaac Callan & Colin D'Mello Global News

Posted April 24, 2024

Respiratory therapist Alisha Clark, left, and registered nurse Joy Turner take a rest in the employee break room in the intensive care unit at the Humber River Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Jan. 25.NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Ford government has won a privacy battle to keep the extent of its nursing, personal support worker and physician shortage secret after Ontario’s privacy watchdog ruled that revealing them could be economically damaging.

In September 2022, Global News filed and subsequently appealed a freedom of information request with the Ministry of Health that included its projections for the number of PSWs, nurses and physicians the province would need in future years.

The government withheld the details, arguing that disclosing them could allow health unions to negotiate for higher salaries and private nursing agencies to squeeze hospitals harder for extra with inflated rates for temporary staff.

More than a year and a half after the request was launched, following a protracted battle in front of the Information and Privacy Commission of Ontario (IPC), the government has won the right to continue to shield the information.

The adjudicator, Alec Fadel, agreed with the government that the information could be used by both public and private interests to “advocate for higher rates” in an April 16 decision.


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