In an open letter sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper today, Canadian Doctors for Medicare called on the federal government to commit to taking action under the Canada Health Act (CHA) in response to the proposed introduction of user fees in Quebec.
In its recent provincial budget, Quebec announced its intentions to introduce health care user fees, indicating that most residents would be subject to a $25 fee for every visit to a physician.
“By introducing user fees for health care services, Quebec is in direct violation of both the letter and spirit of the Canada Health Act. It is imperative that Prime Minister Harper announce his intention to it enforce the prohibition against user fees under the CHA,” said Danielle Martin, a practicing physician and Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.
“User fees disproportionately punish those who tend to need help the most, and lead to an increase in health care costs as patients are more likely to illnesses untreated,” continued Martin.
According to Canadian Doctors for Medicare, the introduction of user fees as a means of reducing costs and curbing system abuses is unsupported by evidence and the conclusions of virtually all major commissions and task forces that have studied the issue.
“The CHA prohibits extra-billing and user fees, regardless of what form they take, whether they are charged at the point of service or at tax time. We need our federal government to enforce the Canada Health Act and ensure that health care remains accessible for Canadians.”
Canadian Doctors for Medicare is asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper to enforce the Canada Health Act by reducing transfer payments to the government of Quebec unless the introduction of user fees is withdrawn.