On October 12, 2017, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (the “Ministry”) issued a Hospital Naming Directive (the “Naming Directive”) setting out naming criteria and the approval process that all Ontario hospitals must follow when changing their corporate name or obtaining a new business name. This process is separate and distinct from the process that must be followed under corporate law statutes to apply for a name change or register a business name.

Application of Naming Directive

The Naming Directive applies to:

  • hospital corporations;
  • hospital sites, being sites or campuses about which a hospital reports financial and statistical information to the Ministry;
  • individual hospital buildings in cases where the building comprises all or substantially all of the hospital site; and
  • alliances, partnerships and other associations of hospital corporations.

The Naming Directive clarifies that it does NOT apply to hospital wings, individual hospital buildings (unless the building comprises all or substantially all of the hospital site), research or treatment centres, or programs or services.

Naming Criteria

The Naming Directive sets criteria for proposed new names, which include the following:

  • the name must not include the corporate or business name of a corporate donor or the name of an individual or family, irrespective of whether the donation is from an individual, family or corporation;
  • the hospital board has considered whether the name would risk a public perception that a donor will unduly influence the operations or practices of the hospital or undermine public confidence in the province’s hospitals or health care system; and
  • the name must be consistent with the mission, vision and values of the hospital, the public interest, and reflect one or more of the geographic area where the hospital is located, its service or clinical mandate, the patient population served, the culture or heritage of the persons served by the hospital or the hospital’s history.

Approval Process

The Naming Directive sets out the submission requirements and approval process for a name change, which includes consultation with the public and the Local Health Integration Network (“LHIN”), LHIN endorsement and Ministry approval. The Naming Directive does not provide timelines for review and approval of name change applications by the LHIN or the Ministry.

What Should Hospitals Do?

Public hospitals have been under an obligation to consult with the Ministry when considering changes to their business or operating names. The Naming Directive now codifies and clarifies the obligations and processes for Ministry approval. Public hospitals are recommended to:

  • review and update donor recognition and fundraising policies to align with the Naming Directive;
  • adopt operational polices and procedures to ensure compliance with the Naming Directive when entering into or participating in alliances, partnerships and other associations; and
  • account for the requirements, processes and timing for community engagement, LHIN endorsement and Ministry approval under the Naming Directive when pursuing hospital rebranding initiatives.