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OTTAWA – To mark National Medicare Week, November 17-22, the Canadian Health Coalition will be drawing attention to ongoing violations of the Canada Health Act (CHA) which represent a threat to the health of Canadians and their pocketbooks.

There has been a national explosion of private, for-profit health facilities across Canada. This privatization has CHA implications when providers of such services charge patients for insured health services and/or allow them to jump the queue.

Health coalitions across Canada will be contacting and their Provincial Minister of Health, and writing the Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who has unique statutory duties with respect to overseeing Medicare, demanding an immediate response to documented CHA violations in the new report, "Eroding Public Medicare: Costs and Consequences."

The new report found that at for-profit clinics, patients are charged extraordinary costs, queue jumping is offered for cash payments, and patients are exploited through the selling of unnecessary test and procedures. The report shows that where for-profit clinics expand, health human resources are drained from the public system and wait times are lengthened, rather than shortened, as doctors, nurses and other health professionals leave the public system.

"Canadians would rather see improvements that make public health care better for everyone, than the expansion of private, for-profit health care that benefits only a few," said Kathleen Connors, Canadian Health Coalition Chairperson.

"I encourage governments to commit to working to fix problems in the health care system rather than using the problems as an excuse to go back to the days before Medicare – when people had to worry about whether they could afford the care they, or a loved one, needed, and doctors could charge whatever they wanted. Medicare could not have existed and will not survive without federal leadership," Connors added.

The Canadian Health Coalition is a non-partisan citizens’ organization dedicated to the preservation and improvement of Medicare. The membership is comprised of national organizations representing nurses, health care workers, seniors, churches, anti-poverty, women and trade unions, as well as affiliated coalitions in 9 provinces and one territory.