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by Mary Soderstrom

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Friday, 19 June 2015

Where is the NDP When It Comes to Extrabilling?

What is happening in Quebec under the Couillard Liberals is extremely discouraging.  Step by step, under the banner of fiscal rigor, the government is privatizing the supply of all services offered to the citizenry.  The evidence is clear as witness the cuts to public education which are not accompanied by similar cuts to financial support to private schools, and the pressure on day cares to reduce their reserves, meaning that they will have to rent facilities from private enterprise, not acquire their own.

The latest thing is the institutionalization of user fees charged by doctors practicing in private clinics.  They are paid by the public system for the care they give, but argue that they can't cover their office expenses  if they don't charge extra.  Of course, any other professional has to figure out how to pay basic costs, and certainly doctors are just as smart as lawyers and accountants so certainly they should be able to do the same.  But that's not an argument I want to get into here.

What does bother me terrificallyis  that under the Canada Health Act which set up the framework of our health system, charging extra fees is not supposed to be allowed.  The idea of eliminating financial barriers to access underlies the whole idea of our Medicare set-up.  Extra billing is contrary to that principle.

To be sure, health is a provincial responsibility, and the cuts in transfers to the provinces from the Federal government gives the Feds less leverage.  But why isn't the NDP, which led the fight for Medicare, protesting the increasing charging of extra fees throughout the country?  Given the desire not to appear to impinge on the provinces,  it might be too much to expect Thomas Mulcair to condemn  extrabilling in Quebec, but there is no reason why he and his team in Quebec can't come out against extrabilling on principle.

The photo, by the way, is of Gaetan Barrette, Quebec's health minister.

1 comment:

Gyor said...

I'd suggest you send an email to the NDP health critic asking this question.