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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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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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