The Patient Files: What is it like for patients at your local hospital?

Ontario’s hospitals are in a state of crisis.

COVID-19 pushed them over the brink, but the problems afflicting hospitals are longstanding.

To give the Ontario public an inside look at the failures and triumphs of the province’s hospitals, we are publishing several years’ worth of patient-survey data obtained for the first time through dozens of freedom-of-information requests.

Included are scores showing how patients rated their care, and how hospitals compared to one another on those patient ratings. We are also sharing anonymized comments written by patients and their loved ones. Together, they paint a portrait of a strained system that many Ontario patients believe is compromising their care and even their health.

Click on any of the map’s hospitals and health networks to access data visualizations showing what patients have been saying about their experiences there.

The visualizations show what percentage of the patient comments were positive, negative, or a mix of both—and how that breakdown changed over time. You can also see what themes and words appeared in the comments the most, while also reading the actual comments themselves. Another visualization shows how patients rated key aspects of their hospitals and health networks, and how different hospitals compared to others on the ratings received by patients.

Not all hospitals and health networks have every data visualization, because some could not provide all the required data.


The data and comments in this infographic were collected from responses to surveys sent to patients by the Ontario hospitals and health networks identified here. The IJB obtained these survey responses from the hospitals and health networks through freedom-of-information requests. 

Individuals’ opinions are their own. The IJB has not verified any of the claims or comments within these survey responses—they are presented only to illustrate general trends in responses from healthcare recipients at Ontario hospitals. 

Some of the data provided by hospitals and health networks came from surveys with low sample sizes, or was unfinalized and subject to minor change at the time of disclosure.

The OHA, which facilitated the survey program on behalf of its member hospitals, said the following: “Ontario hospitals have been leaders in providing high-quality health care through an ongoing process of quality improvement. Unfortunately, in a field as complex as health care, despite best efforts by dedicated and experienced health care professionals, there will always remain the possibility that things do not go as expected … Hospitals are grateful to the patients and families that have shared their perspectives on the care they received. These efforts are vital to strengthening patient care and improving hospital performance.”

By the numbers:

Statement from Norfolk General Hospital: “We are dedicated to continually improving our services and ensuring that the voices of our patients are heard and respected.”

Statement from West Parry Sound Health Centre: “Our organization has neither the strategic interest, capacity, nor risk appetite to maintain retrospective, non-comparable data.”


This interactive data visualization was created by the Health Informatics, Visualization, and Equity Lab in collaboration with the Investigative Journalism Bureau. Both are based at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Neil Seeman graciously contributed ideas and guidance to the project. Toronto Star staff provided assistance.

This data visualization was supported with funding from the University of Toronto’s Institute for Pandemics. 

The accompanying investigation was supported with funding from the Data-Driven Reporting Project. The Data-Driven Reporting Project is funded by the Google News Initiative in partnership with Northwestern University | Medill.


Robert Cribb, Max Binks-Collier, Declan Keogh, Alina Snisarenko, Wendy-Ann Clarke, Naama Weingarten, Sakeina Syed, Blair Bigham and Alia Campbell

Toronto Star

David Bruser and Jesse McLean edited the accompanying investigation in the Toronto Star. Andrew Bailey assisted with data analysis.

Hive Lab

Zahra Shakeri, Aryan Sadeghi and Yong Chen