Five-month investigation paints a picture of a dangerous and disturbing “Wild West” of private clinics operating with little or no oversight.

By Staff

March 9th, 2024



Five-month investigation, paints a picture of a dangerous and disturbing “Wild West” of private clinics operating with little or no oversight.

A report released by the Ottawa and Ontario Health Coalitions contains shocking revelations about the ownership and management behind private health clinics in Ottawa. Based on a five-month investigation, Freedom of Information requests, corporate filings, interviews and court records, the report paints a picture of a dangerous and disturbing “Wild West” of private clinics operating with little or no oversight.

The report centres on the South Keys clinic featured in a flurry of media reports last fall when its “Clinical Director” announced that patients would be required to pay a $400 annual fee to access primary care by a nurse practitioner.

The report is 85 pages long – we need some time to dig through the details.

Health Minister Sylvia Jones has yet to deliver on a promised investigation.

At the time, Health Minister Sylvia Jones promised an investigation, noted the Coalition. No update has been forthcoming and the Health Coalition reports it conducted its own inquiry into the clinic resulting in three major findings, as follows:

A review of the two key statutes establishing the legal rights of Ontarians to primary health care services confirms that the $400 per year fee recently introduced by the South Keys clinic is unlawful.

The Coalition called on the Ford government to stop stalling and enforce Ontario’s and Canada’s Public Medicare protection laws.

The Coalition called for an investigation into the charges levied on patients, and said that the scope of this investigation must be expanded to examine the ownership and management of the South Keys clinic and another Ottawa clinic co-owned by the same individual.

The owners of the South Keys clinic and a second related clinic – Neuromotion Therapy – appear to have been convicted of serious crimes including 64 counts of insurance fraud and sexual assault.

The Coalition also identified a troubling pattern of misleading practices in the marketing of these clinics. A number of individual practitioners who are now, or have been, listed on the roster of the clinics’ health professionals appear to live in communities far away from Ottawa, or were listed on the website long after they left, or never worked at the clinics.

The report’s authors concluded, “The details contained in this report reveal the consequences of the Ford government’s policies that have allowed more and more vital health care services to be owned by profit-driven business people and investors who lack a social commitment to the provision of health care.”

“We call upon the Ford government to take immediate action to enforce our public health care laws and stop the South Keys clinic from charging patients for primary care services, at bare minimum,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition.

“The extremely disturbing details about the apparent legal histories of the clinics’ owners illustrate the serious dangers to the public created by the privatization of our vital health care services,” added Kevin Skerrett, of the Ottawa Health Coalition. “Along with actually “shutting down bad actors”, as Minister of Health Sylvia Jones promised in October, this broader problem must be addressed through ending the for-profit privatization of primary care that has accelerated significantly under the Ford government and establishing public and not-for-profit community health teams with strong public oversight.”

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6 comments to Five-month investigation paints a picture of a dangerous and disturbing “Wild West” of private clinics operating with little or no oversight.

  • Jane

    Doesn’t sound like anyone read the report and just provided their opinions. Perhaps read the report to understand the actual concern. Sexual assault, fraud, unregulated etc, not just simply a moan about lack of access to services.

  • Tom Muir

    I needed an MRI. It takes 6 months to a year in the public (Doug Ford) system.
    It took 2 months in a private clinic. I guess it can be said that this private clinic is also a Doug Ford creation.
    This is a big deal piece of your life at my age.

    • David

      MRI within a week in the U.S. My friends 45 year old wife was crippled with a back injury and our system offered her pain management and physio no surgery no hope, she flew to Philadelphia to an athletes clinic for a procedure that cost around $80k she’s right as rain now, OHIP didn’t reimburse her because the procedure is not recognized in Ontario. As you say, it becomes about quality of life not money.

  • David

    When I had my boat at ‘Bronte Outer Harbour’ all my neighbors had American Doctors, no wait times and access to surgeries that we just don’t provide hear.

  • Joe Gaetan

    Our system is one of the most expensive in the world with the poorest outcomes. If you look at the composition of the OHC they will never find any good in a system that has private operators. Other countries have made it work with better outcomes.

  • Penny

    For profit clinics have been available in Ontario for over 20 years. Twenty years ago, I was introduced to a female physician who practiced in Toronto. She ran a “wellness” clinic and because I felt that I needed a better physician than the one I had I decided to register with her clinic. The cost per year for 1 patient was $5,000.00.

    What I got for my $5,000.00 was access to her or her associate 24/7. I had the ability to attend nutrition clinics, etc. When I needed to see a specialist she made all the arrangements. Any blood tests , scans, etc. were covered by OHIP . I didn’t have to make appointments or chase down a specialist or wait for months to get an appointment.

    This physician diagnosed my issues that had gone unnoticed by previous family doctors. Why – perhaps because there was a fee associated she left no stone unturned.

    My elderly brother in Montreal who does not have a lot of money was forced to join a private health clinic when his physician retired and there was no one taking over his practice and no one was taking new patients.. Cost $5,000.00 per year, and he had to be a waitlist for close to a year before being accepted.

    There is a private clinic located in Oakville and the yearly fee is much less than what I paid years ago. People are joining these clinic’s not only because they have no access to a family doctor but because if they feel the family doctor they have is not a good fit – there is nowhere to go.

    The first thing I think the government should do is to require that physicians go back to being responsible for their patients after hours/weekends. The reason people end up in the emergency department of hospitals for minor issues is because their physician is not available. The on call system of years ago was far more efficient than using walk-in clinics etc. where the physician has no idea of who you are or what your health issues are.

    What is a patient to do if they are diagnosed with a serious health condition but cannot get CT Scans or MRI’s for weeks or not able to see a specialist for months?

    Our health system is broken. Throwing money ( although not even enough) will not make a difference.