NDP again try to change Ontario’s organ donation system to an opt-out one
Nickel Belt MPP and NDP health critic France Gélinas has reintroduced a bill aimed at increasing the availability of organs for transplant in Ontario.
The ‘Peter Kormos Memorial Act’ (Saving Organs to Save Lives), which would change organ and tissue donation in Ontario from an opt-in system to an opt-out system.
The bill is named after Welland MPP Peter Kormos, an advocate for organ donation. Kormos died March 30, 2013. Kormos was pushing to make changes to the organ donation system for years.
The bill was re-introduced at Queen’s Park on the tenth anniversary of Kormos’ death. This is the seventh time a version of the bill as been introduced to the legislator. The last time, Gélinas introduced the bill – it died on the floor because the legislature was dissolved and a provincial election was called.
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Gélinas told CTV News the opt-out system would not only save lives but would potentially save the healthcare system money.
“This bill will take people off transplant wait lists and out of dialysis clinics” said Gélinas, in a news release Thursday.
“It will help not only save lives, but help transplant recipients live longer, more productive lives.”
She said that everyone waiting for a transplant is receiving care in one way or another and that puts pressure on the healthcare system and comes with a cost. Gélinas went on to explain that usually following a transplant people are not so sick and become productive members of the community and often return to the workforce – but most importantly do not require dialysis or other costly care.
“So we (the NDP) are starting to make the push on the money side to show not only is this something that we can do, that we should do.”
In her interview with CTV News, Gélinas pointed to Nova Scotia, which uses a presumed consent organ donation system and has seen a 40 per cent increase in organ and tissue donation since making the change in 2021.
"It is very similar to the bill that Nova Scotia put in place,” she said.
“In Nova Scotia they've had assumed consent for organ donations for this is their third year, it works beautifully and I think Ontario is ready to do the same."
Gélinas said the first time she introduced the bill there was significant pushback against it.
“I took my time,” she said.
“I reach back to those people, I had meetings with people, I listened to them – we did changes together to the bill, so that we could come to a place where we would increase the number of organs being available.”
Gélinas said it was important to be respectful of people as most donations occur at the time of one’s death.
She said with the changes the bill no longer has pushback from labour or religious groups.
Gélinas said that people would be able to opt-out at any time in an easy-to-follow process and people can be assured their next of kin would be asked upon their death.
“We are ready,” Gélinas said.
“There are now more and more people who support and they are willing to go and talk to members of the Conservative Party … to let them know why it is important.”
Officials said as much as 85 per cent of Ontarians when asked say they would donate their organs when they died but less than half of them have completed the paperwork currently required for the provinces opt-in system.
According to Gélinas, this is the reason she continues to push for change.
Gélinas said there are currently about 1,340 people in Ontario on the waitlist for organ transplants and on average three people die every week waiting.
“All of those lives could be saved,” she said.
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