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$8,400 hospital fine will go unpaid, says Ontario family who opposes controversial LTC law

5 min read

Tecumseh, Ont., resident Michele Campeau says the $8,400 bill her mom has received related to the province’s controversial long-term care law is a “scare tactic” that she’s not falling for. 

She also plans to use it in her fight to put a stop to the legislation.

“This is not just about my mother anymore … a lot of people get scared and bullied into paying this,” said Campeau, whose mom has been at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare in Windsor since the beginning of the year. 

“I think it’s time for us to stand up and protect our elderly.” 

CBC News spoke with Campeau last month, when she said she had been told there would be a $400-a-day charge related to Bill 7, after she refused to move her mom into a care home that they didn’t want. 

Bill 7, the More Beds, Better Care Act, came into effect in September 2022. It allows hospitals to charge patients who refuse to move into a long-term care bed chosen on their behalf.

Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare says the legislation is necessary to free up beds needed for patients with urgent health issues. But an advocate says the stress and immense financial burden Campeau and her mom are experiencing are exactly why this legislation needs to be revoked.

This is a photo of the bill that Ruth Poupard received at the end of last month. It outlines the $8,400 cost she must pay for staying in hospital between March 11 to March 31.
This is a photo of the bill Ruth Poupard received at the end of last month. It outlines the $8,400 cost she must pay for staying in hospital between March 11 to 31. (Submitted by Ruth Poupard )

Bill ‘gives me fuel to fight this,’ says patient’s daughter

Campeau’s mother, Ruth Poupard, is 83 and has dementia. She went to Windsor Regional Hospital on Dec. 27 after falling and breaking her hip. She was soon moved to Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare. 

Weeks later, she said she was eligible for long-term care and the hospital found a home with an available bed. 

But Campeau told CBC News last month that after viewing the facility, she wouldn’t even put her dog in there. She refused the bed, which then meant the $400-a-day charge kicked in. 

WATCH | Ontario resident says the fine will go unpaid: 

Ontario resident, who disagrees with the policy, says the fine will go unpaid

Michele Campeau says the $8,400 bill that her mom received, along with any future ones, will not be paid. Campeau’s mom is still in hospital and waiting for a bed in one of the long-term care homes that she wants.

On April 22, Poupard was billed $8,400 for her March 11 to 31 hospital stay.

She’s still in the hospital and hasn’t been offered a bed at one of the five long-term-care homes the family wants, said Campeau. 

A sign reads Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare.
Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare says it has only billed one person in relation to Bill 7 — the province’s policy that allows people to be charged $400 a day if they refuse to move into a long-term-care bed chosen on their behalf. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

The family is expecting to receive another bill for April’s stay, which will be much higher, in a few weeks. 

With a physical bill in hand, Campeau said she now feels more “empowered” to fight the issue.  

“It’s just bullying, it’s elder abuse, there’s no justification,” she said. 

“I’m not upset about it, because it gives me fuel to fight this.” 

Hospital CEO says fine is ‘last resort’ to free up beds

Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare CEO Bill Marra could not speak on the family’s case for privacy reasons. He confirmed the hospital has only charged one person under Bill 7 so far.

“We have very personal and conscientious conversations with families. If they have legitimate reasons for delay we work with them as well. It’s … very much a last resort option that we don’t want to invoke, we’ve exhausted every alternative and then that leaves us no choice to do what we are required to do by law,” he said. 

WATCH | Hospital CEO explains process to move patients out of hospital::

Hospital CEO explains when Bill 7 policy is used

Bill Marra, CEO of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, breaks down what the hospital does when it has a patient who is ready to move out of its care and into a long-term care facility.

Marra added that Bill 7 is important legislation and necessary to free up essential resources. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, Marra said, there were at least two dozen people in Windsor emergency rooms waiting for a bed. 

He added that in recent days, Windsor Regional Hospital had 11 patients move into long-term-care homes that they didn’t want. Marra says that based on the average time these patients would have spent in hospital, by moving out, they freed up space for 250 patients.

“Two hundred and fifty people are not waiting in the [emergency room], they’re not waiting to be admitted, they’re not waiting for services that are required for their medical condition,” he said. 

“[The bill] is not meant to be punitive, it’s not meant to make anyone’s life difficult, it’s meant to ensure that a hospital bed is used for a patient that requires a hospital bed.”

Michele Campeau, left, visits with her mother, Ruth Poupard, 83, at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare where she is recovering from a broken hip, in Windsor, Ont., on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. Poupard also suffers from dementia and requires 24-hour care.
Campeau, left, visits with her mother, Poupard, 83, at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare where she is recovering from a broken hip, in Windsor on April 3. Poupard also has dementia and requires 24-hour care. (Dax Melmer/The Canadian Press)

He said although this may seem like a “blunt instrument,” it’s essential to manage the high demand for hospital services.

In response to critics who say Bill 7 puts the responsibility of a systemic problem in the health-care system on vulnerable patients, Marra said he doesn’t agree with that, adding “we have a medical system that works when it’s used properly.” 

As for consequences if a fine goes unpaid, Marra said they haven’t considered it at this time, but plan to do their best to work with families and are open to a payment plan that accommodates a person’s financial situation. 

A spokesperson for Health Minister Sylvia Jones’s office said in an email Tuesday that due to patient confidentiality, they can’t share more details on patients who have been charged fees by hospitals. Last month, the government confirmed seven people had been billed in the province in relation to Bill 7. 

‘This bill is not a solution’ 

Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO and president of elderly advocacy organization CanAge, said “this bill is not a solution.” 

“This is the definition of systemic abuse and exactly what frail people do not need,” she said, adding that clearly Campeau is not complying with the policy out of fear that placing her in a home they don’t like would “further injure their loved one.” 

She said no one should be placed in this sort of difficult situation, especially not vulnerable people who don’t have many options for care as both home care services and long-term care facilities have long wait lists. 

Tamblyn Watts said the government needs to invest more into home-care services so people can afford to age where they want. 

Campeau said she is working with the Toronto-based organization Advocacy Centre for the Elderly.

The centre and the Ontario Health Coalition have filed a lawsuit against the government, alleging the bill violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

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