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Friends of Medicare discusses effects of for-profit clinics, The Lethbridge Herald, April 26, 2018

Posted: April 26, 2018

Friends of Medicare discusses effects of for-profit clinics

The Lethbridge Herald
Thu Apr 26 2018

Byline: Schnarr, J.W.

How private clinics can affect public health care was discussed Monday night in Lethbridge during a town hall-style meeting held by Friends of Medicare.

The group is on a four-stop tour to raise awareness around issues they see with private, for-profit health clinics which charge large sums of money in membership fees for access.

“What we want to do is have a conversation as to whether or not these clinics are impeding or helping having equity and access to care,” said Sandra Azocar, executive director for Friends of Medicare.

She said two studies, one by the Parkland Institute and another by the Ontario Health Coalition, show the importance of limiting the effect of private clinics on the public system.

“Both of them show quite a bit of evidence that these clinics are potentially and sometimes legitimately in violation of the Canada Health Act,” she said. “We want to push the government to take some logical steps in terms of implementing the act.”

The event was held at the Lethbridge Seniors Citizens Organization to provide information and to hear from the public on the issue.

“We definitely want awareness to be raised around some of the implications these private clinics pose in accessing private health care, and definitely get a sense of what people think.

“I think the town hall was a really good starting point for Lethbridge residents to get some clarity around what the clinics actually do or don’t do for public health care.”

The group is going through southern Alberta and will be moving into the northern area of the province toward the end of the month.

“I think people, overall, understand that we have a lot to do in terms of protecting our public health system,” said Azocar. “People have been very responsive in terms of recognizing the fact that provincially and federally, the government needs to seriously look at protecting our public health care, and not just maintain a status quo, but look at ways we can improve it.”