DLSPH Open: Ontario transparency legislation to impact researchers and clinicians

February 15/2018

Dear colleagues,

Many of you have heard that Ontario’s new transparency legislation will require industry to report their financial relationships with Ontario’s health-care system, including with health researchers and clinicians. The legislation is the Health Sector Payment Transparency Act, which is part of The Strengthening Quality and Accountability for Patients Act, 2017. It aims to increase oversight and safeguard the quality of care in Ontario by enhancing transparency and accountability across the health-care sector.

Ontario is now the first Canadian province or territory to legislate mandatory disclosure of private sector payments to health professionals. The regulations that define disclosure thresholds have not yet been determined by the Ministry of Health, but once defined, the legislation will be operational. It is expected that legislation roll out will take place later in 2018.

This gives us time to review our own policies and provides an opportunity for all academic health institutions to reflect on their own practice and relationships with industry, the community and with government. As academics, we are accustomed to being scrutinized. We also already report on these types of interactions through our annual activity reports, but this legislation looks a bit deeper into our practices and relationships with the private sector.

This legislation will require pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers to disclose all financial interactions with clinicians, health practitioners, researchers and educators. It’s up to the payer to communicate information to the Ministry, who will collect, analyze, publish and audit this information on a public website.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care will annually report the following information:

  • Name and address of the party
  • Description of transfer
  • Dollar amount
  • Date

I am grateful that two members of our community, Professors Dionne Gesink and Terry Sullivan, are taking the lead on DLSPH’s strategy by working with the academic health science community to roll out the recommendations within the DLSPH, the University and beyond. They are in touch with the most-responsible Assistant Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care on this file and will continue working together as regulations are developed.

Dionne and Terry will convene faculty meetings to give all members of our community the opportunity to share their views, discuss options, and together as a faculty we will plan our way forward and decide how we want to act in response to this legislation.

This legislation is aligned with our Faculty’s values of integrity, rigour, ethics and accountability, and we may already be ahead of the curve. Now, we need to decide if existing reporting is enough or if we want to take it a step further.

I look forward to hearing from each of you in the coming weeks and am grateful to Dionne, Terry and all of our academic health science partners for their careful consideration to ensure we implement this legislation in a way that is thoughtful and aligned with our shared vision and mission.

Your input is important and I encourage you all to participate in this process.

Best regards,

Adalsteinn Brown
Interim Dean
Dalla Lana Chair in Public Health Policy
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, a Faculty of the University of Toronto