I hearken back to my days working at Queen’s Park and it feels like ‘déjà vu all over again’, as the cliché goes.
Before Frances Lankin stepped down as MPP to become head of Greater Toronto’s United Way agency in 2001, her private member’s bill outlawing patient restraints received rare and hasty unanimous passage on her way out the door.
Public Hospitals Amendment Act (Patient Restraints), Bill 135, sought to end the use of restraints of any kind, physical or chemical, without consent. An emotional Lankin recalled the bill’s passage as a highlight of her career in her goodbye speech to the House. It was personal for Lankin. She had discovered her mother restrained and in great distress in a nursing home and made it her personal campaign to stop the practice.
I remember it clearly because as NDP media director I was putting together a press event to hammer home the need for Lankin’s bill, complete with a variety of confining devices, belts, tethers, ties and a giant syringe as props. Turns out we didn’t need to go the media conference route. Consensus among all parties that her bill should pass won the day.
Now I wonder whether it ever received Royal Assent or had regulations attached to it? Legislation passing third reading is only a piece of paper until these last steps happen. Did they?