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Toronto clinic violates Canada Health Act: Coalition

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Issue: 33 Section: Canadian News Geography: Ontario Toronto

January 31, 2006

Toronto clinic violates Canada Health Act: Coalition

by Dru Oja Jay

Plans by a Toronto health clinic to allow quick access to medical expertise and more time with doctors for a fee is a violation of the Canada Health Act, according to the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC).

According to a legal opinion prepared for the OHC by a Toronto law firm, doctors who accept fees for "queue jumping" and patients who pay them could be fined as much as $10,000. The planned clinics, run by Vancouver-based Copeman Healthcare Inc., will charge patients a $3,500 registration fee.

In a letter to Health Minister George Smitherman, the OHC called on the Ontario government to "curb the growth of boutique medicine and private for-profit clinics." According to the OHC -- which represents over 400 organizations including womens' groups, trade unions and antipoverty groups -- the government has the power to close loopholes, but has not.

According to a Canadian Press report, Smitherman has warned Copeman Healthcare that it could be fined, saying that "any attempt to extricate from an Ontarian a certain financial sum in advance of the provision of a medically insured service is not on." He did not comment on the request to "close loopholes".

» Canadian Press: Proposed private health clinics violate law

» Official Site: Ontario Health Coalition

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