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Health transfers | “We will not negotiate anything,” says Christian Dubé



(Quebec) Transfers of money for health are once again creating discord between Ottawa and Quebec. The federal Minister of Health announced Friday to cut tens of millions of dollars from the provinces because of their recourse to the private sector, a “disappointing” approach, according to his counterpart in Quebec Christian Dubé.

Barely a month after the provinces accepted Ottawa’s – in their view – “insufficient” offer for health transfers, federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos is throwing a new stone into the pond.

It will deduct 82 million from seven provinces for violations of the Canada Health Act, including 42 million from Quebec.

This sum corresponds to what the federal government estimates that Quebecers have paid out of pocket. It can be recovered if the province makes corrections.

“The Canada Health Act is clear: no one in Canada should have to pay out of pocket for medically necessary services,” Mr. Duclos said in a press release on Friday. The measures adopted by the provinces and territories are certainly relevant, but additional efforts must be made to ensure that patients do not have to pay anything when they receive health services covered by health insurance. »

Federal interference in provincial health jurisdictions, says Minister Christian Dubé. “We are not going to negotiate anything,” he decides in an interview with The Press.

According to him, if Quebecers have recourse to the private sector, it is because the services to the public are not up to par. “If [le fédéral] wants to help us, it takes extra money, that’s why we asked for more, ”he recalls.

Quebec was asking Ottawa for a transfer of $6 billion a year. He got a billion, six times less than expected.

“And in addition, [le ministre Duclos] said: I am going to remove you from it because you do not meet certain conditions”, denounces Mr. Dubé. A position that is not going at all “in the right direction”, he is indignant.

Too much private in Quebec?

With the pandemic, there has been an increase in new fees charged to patients, particularly for access to telemedicine, Minister Duclos noted on Friday.

A report by the Institute for Socioeconomic Research and Information (IRIS) made public in mid-January was particularly in line with this.

Christian Dubé recalls that a new agreement made in December now allows general practitioners and medical specialists in Quebec to practice telemedicine. “To the public, which was not allowed before”, he underlines.

In his view, the private sector should be called upon to “be complementary” with the public sector, because this makes it possible to offer more care to the population.

“Our agreements with certain private medical clinics during the pandemic, which made it possible to perform more than 150,000 surgeries free of charge for Quebecers, are a good example of this,” he said in a written statement to The Canadian Press..

The use of private agencies in the public sector could also be regulated under the new bill tabled by Mr. Dubé, which will soon be discussed in parliamentary committee.

“What we want is a universal system, reiterates the minister. We want people, when they use the private sector, that it costs them nothing. But I can’t stop them from going private right now, when they don’t have the level of quality they should have. [au public]. »

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