Patients in Ontario could soon have someone to turn to for answers when things go wrong in hospitals or nursing homes, if legislation proposed by the Liberals becomes law.

The measure was part of a sweeping accountability bill unveiled yesterday.

NDP health critic and Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas says any move towards oversight of hospitals' mistakes is a good one.

“[For] a lot of patients and families … the pain is real, the grieving is real and they need somebody to help them gain closure."

The Liberals say the new patient ombudsman will help resolve complaints against hospitals as well as Long-Term Care Homes and Community Care Access Centres.

Gelinas said Ontario is the only province that exempts hospitals from the watchful eye of the provincial ombudsman — and she wants more details on the powers of the new “patient ombudsman.”

“I want an independent, third party who will be on the side of patients and their families when things derail and, if I get this, I don't really care [what] we call it.”

Positive step, but ...

There are similar questions as to why children's aid complaints won't fall to the ombudsman.

Instead, the Liberals say Ontario's child and youth advocate will be given investigative powers.

Neil Haskett of Sudbury has been lobbying for change in this area through a group called the Ontario Coalition for Accountability.

“It's a positive step, we just don’t think they are as sincere as they could be,” he said.

“Irwin Elman will have expanded oversight to speak with the children in care, which is very important. But it still doesn't come out and help the families that are being needlessly targeted or feel that they are being treated unfairly.”

The whole Liberal accountability plan could be moot if the minority government falls over the budget and the legislation doesn't makes it through Queen's Park.