On Wednesday, the Ontario Ombudsman will deliver his findings and recommendations into how the Ministry of Transportation monitors drivers with uncontrolled hypoglycemia who may be a danger on the roads.
The April 30 results come two years after an investigation began. André Marin’s office followed up on the case of Allan Maki, who was in diabetic shock when he caused a crash that killed three people in Hamilton in 2009. Family members of the accident victims brought the case to the Ombudsman.
That case raised questions about the Ministry of Transportation’s process of obtaining information about drivers with uncontrolled hypoglycemia and taking action when warranted, according to the Ombudsman.
Mr. Maki was found guilty of dangerous driving in December 2011. It took the Ministry almost two years after the crash to suspend his licence, even after his case was flagged by police and a physician. Ontario requires medical professionals to report drivers who have uncontrolled hypoglycemia to the Ministry.
Roughly one million Ontarians live with diabetes. According to some studies, up to 25% of those being treated with insulin could potentially experience hypoglycemic unawareness – the inability to recognize the warning signs of low blood sugar and potential impairment.
“Although most drivers who have diabetes are perfectly safe, the condition of uncontrolled hypoglycemia was deemed serious enough that Ontario and other provinces made it a reportable condition,” Mr. Marin said. “But if that requirement doesn’t result in appropriate action by the Ministry, it is meaningless. Our investigation will determine whether processes in place are adequate to protect public safety.”
The Ombudsman is an independent officer of the Legislature who investigates complaints from the public about Ontario government services. André Marin has been the Ombudsman since 2005 and his investigations have sparked numerous government reforms.
In March, the provincial government announced that it will extend the Ombudsman office’s mandate into the “MUSH sector” –- the broad public sector, comprising municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals, as well as long-term care homes, children’s aid societies and police.
Because the Ombudsman reports not to government but to the Legislative Assembly as a whole, the change is an assurance of greater transparency for all MPPs and the public, Mr. Marin said. “The Ombudsman and other officers of the Legislature serve as checks and balances on government.”
Legal Word of the Day: “Medical Suspension”
Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014 – Tabled March 24