Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Ontario calls for closure of CHA loopholes

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Ontarios health minister has called on the federal health minister to close loopholes in the federal Canadian Health Act CHA that are responsible for unintended increases in health care costs

Ontario’s health minister has called on the federal health minister to close loopholes in the federal Canadian Health Act (CHA) that are responsible for unintended cost increases in primary care clinics. Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones wrote a letter to federal Health Minister Mark Holland on April 15. In the letter, he called for ensuring that no one but doctors can charge for government-funded health care.

The federal Canada Health Act outlines what health care will be funded at the provincial level. However, Jones said the law is not clear on what will and will not be allowed in the case of non-physician services such as nurses. This lack of prohibition has created a loophole in the law that certain health care providers and their clinics are taking advantage of, he wrote in the letter. As a result, they are taking the opportunity knowing that there is no legal consequence or risk of closure.

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Ontario directly funds more than two dozen nurse-run clinics that charge hundreds of dollars in annual membership fees for health care. Allowing the practice to continue would defeat the purpose of the massive investment in primary health care expansion, Jones noted in his letter.

Opposition parties at Queen’s Park argued the province could take action against the clinics’ tolls without Ottawa’s help. Jones argues that a national solution is needed to prevent non-physician providers from leaving Ontario and moving to other provinces.

A spokeswoman for federal Health Minister Mark Holland said he will soon issue a letter clarifying the Canada Health Act to address the modernization of the Canada Health Act and the development of the health care sector. This will include things like virtual care, telemedicine and expanding the work opportunities of health workers such as nurses.

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