I’m Kate Dewhirst.

I’m a lawyer who writes about legal issues affecting healthcare in Canada

Kate Dewhirst Health Law - bringing the law to life. Meet Kate (in 13 seconds)

Talking about risk and statutory compliance without scaring or boring your board

Posted by

If you are a CEO or ED of a healthcare organization, you need to talk to your board about risk.

How do you do it without scaring them or boring them?

You make risk real. You explain real situations that have happened to similar organizations.

Here are a couple of pointers:

Give them a risk architecture: Most board members don’t know the categories of risk that you face. Give them a high level overview or architecture of risk that they can see the 20,000 ft view of risk.  Risks like: (1) Clinical or Patient/Client Safety; (2) Human Resources; (3) Financial; (4) Technological. What other risks form your enterprise risk management program?  Give them the high level summary so they know how to start to categorize risks. Give them an architecture to hang their risk questions and ideas on.

Give them a high level summary of the laws that apply to them: Did you know there are more than 40 laws that apply to health care organizations in Ontario?  Show them the laws that apply in the categories of (1) Clinical; (2) Corporate; (3) Human Resources/Employment; and (4) Building/Facility.

If you have governing legislation specific to your type of facility or service – make sure you highlight that for them.  For example, the Public Hospitals Act or the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 or the Laboratory and Specimen Collection Centre Licensing Act. Heads up: Primary care teams like FHTs do not have an overarching law they need to point to.

Tell them about the 5 Duties: Prioritize risk for your board.  Sure they need to know about ALL the risks – but make sure you tell them about the 5 duties that every health care organization needs to know about and manage:

  1. Duty to remit taxes
  2. Duty to abide by employment standards
  3. Duty to abide by occupational health and safety standards
  4. Duty to respect privacy
  5. Duty to protect the environment

If you do not manage these duties properly, the risks can be devastating to your organization and there can be personal liability for board members. Make sure you are crystal clear on those duties and the potential consequences and then demonstrate to the board that you are responding to those duties and managing those risks.

Give your board members practical tasks: Help your board members by giving them questions to ask you.  In your board training, explain to them how they fulfill their duty to be vigilant.  Explain how they need to come to meetings and read the materials and ask good questions.

Tell stories of other organizations: There is nothing like storytelling to make “fanciful” risks real.  Telling your board members about what has happened to another similar type of health organization helps them understand what can happen. It also communicates to your board that you are up-to-date and knowledgeable about your risk context and then you can share how you are taking steps to avoid such risks on your team.

Tell your board about insurance and other coverage for them: Board members need to be reassured that there is insurance for them too. Once you have explained all the ways things could go horribly wrong, tell them about how you manage their risks so they don’t get too worried.

Let me know if you’d like onsite board risk and statutory compliance training. It’s one of my favourite topics!


If you enjoyed this article please share it:


Previous and next posts from Kate:

Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events
February 12, 19, 26, 27, Mar 2, 9, 11, 24, 27

For Primary Care clinics, Hospitals, Community Agencies and Children’s Aid

Kate trains health professionals from many more health care organizations how being privacy-respectful can improve therapeutic relationships. More details...

Speaking event March 25, 2020

Osgoode Professional Development – Health Law Certificate

Kate joins the faculty for this training event. More details...

Primary care webinars: Employment Law Update & Legal Issues for EDs and Board members

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our March webinar is on questions to ask your insurer and the April program is on changes to pregnant employees' positions.
Full details of the 2020 webinar series and registration here.

Health Privacy Officer training
April 28, 2020

For Privacy Officers within healthcare organisations.

This course focuses on how to become a more confident privacy officer and gives you the tools to document your privacy program. Full details and registration here...

Osgoode Health Privacy training
January 20 & 27 and February 3,10 & 18, 2020

Kate is the program chair for the Osgoode Certificate in Privacy in Healthcare.

This program explores the range of privacy interests that must be protected in the day-to-day treatment of patients, the development of information systems and the creation of institutional policies. More details...

Free healthcare privacy webinar - ask me anything!
March 4 (cancelled) but back April 1

Free webinars - advance registration needed

Whether you're an experienced privacy officer or new in the field, pick Kate’s brain for free for an hour, in this live webinar. No charge, but you’ll need to register in advance.

Kate Dewhirst Health Law

Kate says:

My mission is bringing the law to life. I make legal theory understandable, accessible and fun! I’m available and love to work for all organizations in the healthcare sector across Ontario and beyond.

Subscribe to my mailing list and keep up to date with news:

Latest Tweets

Trust Builders: Profiles of Health Privacy Officers – Simeon Kanev, Alliance for Healthier Communities… https://t.co/7ZoEPyhzIk

about 5 hours ago

I was thrilled to be invited to participate in the 4th Edition of Public Health Law and Policy in Canada, which was… https://t.co/PuQKQZLXu9

about 15 hours ago

contact details

901 King Street West Suite 400 East Tower
Toronto Ontario M5V 3H5

(416) 855 9557

.