Health Care

Supreme Court decision could lift lid on physician billing figures in Ontario

The public could soon know which Ontario doctors have billed the most to the province’s health plan now that the Supreme Court has ruled on the matter.

The high court says it will not hear an appeal from the Ontario Medical Association and two groups of physicians that were challenging a decision to release the information.

Toronto Star reporter Theresa Boyle made a freedom-of-information request to the Ontario health ministry five years ago for the names of the top 100 physician billers to the province’s health-insurance plan for 2008 to 2012.

The ministry disclosed some of the information but without the doctors’ names and certain specializations.

Boyle successfully appealed to the provincial information and privacy commissioner, who ordered full disclosure of the records because the data did not constitute personal information.

The medical association and the physicians’ groups unsuccessfully fought the decision in the Ontario courts, prompting an application to the Supreme Court.

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