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June 14, 2016

Doctors to feds: Enforcement of the Canada Health Act is under federal jurisdiction, not provincial

TORONTO (June 14, 2016) – Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM) is deeply concerned by comments made yesterday by the federal health minister Jane Philpott’s press secretary, indicating that enforcing the Canada Health Act (CHA), a federal statute, is “under provincial health jurisdiction.”

Andrew MacKendrick was responding to a question posed by a CBC reporter who asked what the federal government will do in light of new evidence the Copeman Healthcare Centre medical clinic is “purging” its list of patients who can no longer afford the clinic’s membership fees. Refusing care to patients unless they pay an added fee is known as extra-billing, and is expressly prohibited by the CHA.

Its enforcement is under federal jurisdiction, not provincial.

“It is time for the federal government to stop playing hot potato with the extra-billing problem,” said Dr. Monika Dutt, Chair of the CDM Board of Directors. “Minister Philpott needs to step up and articulate very clearly to the provinces that she will enforce federal laws and any action that limits access to healthcare will be penalized.”

CDM published an open letter to Minister Philpott last week expressing concerns about her silence regarding an alarming series of violations of the Canada Health Act. Quebec’s Bill 20, private diagnostic imaging in Saskatchewan, and user fees at the Copeman Clinic, all overtly defy the Canada Health Act. Canadians welcomed the current governments stated commitment to defending our health care system and many are disappointed in continued inaction in the face of clear violations.

“We had hoped for better from this administration,” Dutt continued.

Canadian Doctors for Medicare provides a voice for Canadian doctors who want to strengthen and improve Canada’s universal publicly-funded health care system. We advocate for innovations in treatment and prevention services that are evidence-based and improve access, quality, equity and sustainability.

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For more information, contact:

Mary-Margaret Jones | Communications & Outreach
Canadian Doctors for Medicare
416.351.3300 | 416.909.5911 (mobile)