Thunder Bay hospital board meetings stay behind closed doors

The hospital says it is doing a post-COVID inventory of how it shares information

THUNDER BAY Three years after access was halted, members of the public and journalists interested in observing meetings of the board of directors of Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre are still unable to do so.

So far there is no indication whether or when the board plans to resume open meetings.

According to a hospital spokesperson, “The last open board webcast was March 2020, and the last open board meeting was recorded via Webex and posted for the public in October 2020.”

He said the change was made after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when the province advised hospital boards to focus on urgent matters only and to cease open board meetings.

TBnewswatch reached out to the hospital to seek a schedule of upcoming board meetings and recent agendas, but was told only that a schedule for open board meetings is not currently available.

In a brief statement, the spokesperson said “Much of the focus has been on the COVID-19 pandemic, however now that we are stabilizing, we are refocusing our operations. We are currently doing an inventory on how we share information and services about Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and have included the board web page as part of this process.”

The statement did not indicate how long it might take to complete the review.

Hospitals in Ontario are independent corporations responsible for their own day-to-day operations.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said there are no statutory requirements for directors’ meetings to be made available to the public, including their agendas and posting their meeting schedules.

Jules Tupker, co-chair of the Thunder Bay Health Coalition said it’s “very concerning” that board meetings are being held behind closed doors.

He said that at meetings he attended in the past, “at least I was able to hear what the plans were that the hospital was planning for the community, and running their facility. That hasn’t happened for three years, and it’s very upsetting. It’s a public hospital and the public should be able to have access to their board meetings so they can find out firsthand what’s happening at the board.”

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