Patient Ombudsman – Year 3 Highlights: Listening, Learning, Leading

Patient Ombudsman – Year 3 Highlights: Listening, Learning, Leading

March 2020 – Ontario’s Patient Ombudsman was pleased to release an overview of our third year of operations Listening, Learning, Leading.

Number of Complaints

In our third year, Patient Ombudsman received 2,419 total complaints about the actions or inactions of health sector organizations. This is a 5% increase from year two.

Patient Ombudsman oversees Ontario’s Public Hospitals, Long-term Care Homes and home and community care coordinated by the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs).

Patient Ombudsman received 1,502 complaints about public hospitals. 226 complaints about LHIN home and community care and 194 complaints about long-term care homes.

What did Ontarians complain about?

Public hospital complaints were often about clinical care, discharge or transfer arrangements and poor or lack of communication from hospital staff to patients and caregivers.

LHIN home and community care complaints were often about inadequate levels of personal support services. Complaints about missed services, scheduling changes or unexpected changes of workers were also frequent. Patients and caregivers highlighted how shortages of personal support workers affected the care they received.

Long-term care home complaints were often about quality of care. Complaints about caring, respectful relationships and poor communication were also common. Caregivers often expressed that staffing levels were a contributing factor in their concerns.

Spotlight issues

Patient Ombudsman chose to spotlight four systemic themes we saw throughout our year 3 complaints data.

  1. Confusing long-term care home placement practices.
  2. A shortage of Personal Support Workers in Ontario’s healthcare system.
  3. Unfair billing practices around overnight hospital stays (co-payments).
  4. Poor communication from healthcare staff to patients and families.

How we helped

75% of written complaints to Patient Ombudsman were resolved within 109 days.

Health sector organizations made changes to address systemic concerns in 128 Patient Ombudsman files.

Patient Ombudsman reviews led to $82,000 waived or reduced fees in hospital billing complaints.

For more about Patient Ombudsman Year 3 highlights please visit

Forum of Canadian Ombudsman