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Philpott pledges to stop health fees after lawsuit

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott promises to make sure that the access Canadians have to their health care system is based on need, not on their ability to pay.

Philpott was responding to demands in the House of Commons by the NDP on May 3 that she put a stop to health user fees in response to a Quebec legal petition filed in Federal Court the previous day by a coalition led by a major seniors group.

The Réseau FADOQ, a cross section of organizations representing labour, patients, physicians and others, filed a petition to force the Quebec government to abolish health user fees by respecting sections of the Canada Health Act that stipulate the conditions that must be met by the provinces and territories to receive health funding from the federal government.

In a news release, FADOQ called on the Quebec government to abolish the extra fees by revoking powers it recently gave itself in Bill 20.

NDP MP Brigitte Sansoucy (Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, QC) said Quebec has been charging user fees for health care services for years even though the Canada Health Act prohibits them. But Ottawa has done nothing to stop it, she said.

“Now a huge coalition of groups, including the FADOQ, the QMA (Quebec Medical Association) and the FIQ (the federation of labour unions representing nurses in Quebec) are taking the [Quebec] government to court to make it enforce the Canada Health Act,” Sansoucy said.

“Why will the minister not do her job, enforce the Canada Health Act, and act immediately to put a stop to user fees?” demanded NDP health critic Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway, BC).

Said Philpott: “I will work for the provinces and territories to ensure that access is always available to Canadians.”