Catherine Fife MPP, Waterloo

Government of Ontario

Will All 73 Electronic Health Assets be Subject to Privatization?

Published on October 31, 2016

Ms. Catherine Fife: My question is to the Premier. Minister Hoskins has tasked the Premier’s privatization specialist, Mr. Ed Clark, with determining the value of Ontario’s eHealth assets.

According to the provincial eHealth records asset inventory found on the eHealth website, there are 73 electronic health assets in Ontario. These include eClaims, the New Drug Funding Program claims management system, and the subscription management service, which allows providers to specify how they would like to receive health information, by email or SMS or cell.

My question to the Premier is simple today: Will all 73 electronic health assets be subject to Mr. Clark’s review and potential privatization?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I know the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care is going to want to comment in the supplementary, but let me just say once again we are not selling eHealth and we are not selling patient information, Mr. Speaker. The reality is, we know that eHealth’s mandate expires in 2017 and it’s responsible to look at what has been accomplished and what the next steps are.

But I want to make a link between the two questions that we have heard from the NDP this morning. Both those questions are underpinned by a lack of understanding of how important it is that government work with the rest of society, that we work with businesses. The issue around Ontario Place: Having connections with business at Ontario Place will make it a vibrant place. Already there are partnerships in place on that property.

Mr. Speaker, it is incumbent upon government to find ways to deliver the best service to people in this province, and that means we have to acknowledge that working with business is part of that.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Catherine Fife: Well, let me draw the link for the Premier. The link from this side of the House, as we see your work, is that you put private interests ahead of the public services in this province consistently. You can see why people would be concerned about privatizing eHealth assets, both strategic and tactical. They determine the health—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Minister of Economic Development and Growth, come to order.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’ll wait long enough.

Please finish.

Ms. Catherine Fife: People deserve to feel secure that their private health information will not be sold off to the highest bidder. This government has a very poor track record on keeping personal information secure. People want to know that when they need medical advice or treatment, what they say and what goes into their health records will stay between them and their doctor, not a private company.

If all 73 assets are being valued by Mr. Clark, will the Premier guarantee, right here and right now, that none will be privatized, sold off or contracted out?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Of course I can provide that assurance. I’m becoming a little concerned that the third party is beginning to sow the seeds of fear among Ontarians, that somehow they think there’s an effort under way that will compromise the integrity of their health records. It couldn’t be further from the truth, Mr. Speaker. In fact, last week I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Clark. We had a very good conversation. We made it absolutely clear that the intention, which he shares, is that we’re going to look at the remarkable progress that has been attained with eHealth over the past decade.

We’re going to look at those successes and how we may actually continue to make improvements. None of that involves any possibility whatsoever with regard to privatization of that system or people’s personal health records. We continue to have confidence in eHealth. We want to build a stronger eHealth system for our health care providers and for Ontarians.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary.

Ms. Catherine Fife: People in this province are very afraid. They are afraid to open their hydro bills, because you said that you wouldn’t sell it off and you did. The Premier must understand why it is so hard to believe her when she says that her government is not selling eHealth. That’s exactly what she said to me in this chamber on Hydro One, and we all know how that turned out. It is hard for Ontarians to trust the Premier this time when, last time, she said one thing and then she did the exact opposite.

Mr. Speaker, why should we believe the Premier or this Minister of Health when they say that the 73 eHealth assets are not for sale or available to the highest bidder?