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Ontario Revokes Hospital Naming Directive

Jenny Love
Published:  12/26/2019

hospital exterior
On December 18, the Hospitals Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care revoked its directive requiring public hospitals to get approval before changing the name of hospital corporations or sites.

The directive, issued by the Ministry in October 2017, was meant to prevent public hospitals from being named for corporations or wealthy private donors. It did not apply to hospital wings, individual buildings on a campus, research centers, or treatment centers.

Opponents of the directive expressed concern that the measure would limit philanthropic giving, since named recognition is frequently a motivation for large-scale donations. Despite public funding, many Ontario hospitals rely on the generosity of private donors to fund infrastructure projects and other growth initiatives. 

The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) collaborated with Ministry officials to get the directive reversed, citing concerns about reductions in transformation gifts and arguing that the directive unfairly targeted hospitals for closer scrutiny than other public institutions.

In her letter to hospital board chairs revoking the directive, Christine Elliot, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, recognized the role of naming in encouraging philanthropy, and expressed that the Ministry “trusts each board to make decisions in the best interests of the hospital corporation and the communities it serves.”

Although pre-approval is no longer necessary for name changes, the Ministry will still require that hospitals:

  • Maintain a naming policy to encourage consistency;
  • Engage community stakeholders in potential name changes;

  • Ensure that naming recognition is appropriate for the value of the asset being named;

  • Not agree to use a particular name indefinitely; and

  • Continue to notify the Ministry of expected name changes.

“We’re really pleased with this development,” said Jory Pritchard-Kerr, FAHP, Executive Director of Collingwood General and Marine Hospital Foundation in Collingwood, Ontario and an AHP board member. “My colleagues have been working very hard to attract transformational gifts, and this directive had been a sticking point. I’m really excited that they can now move forward to recognize donors appropriately.”

Elliott encourages anyone with questions about the change to email the Hospitals Branch at Hospitals.Branch-HSQFD@ontario.ca.

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