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Ontario can’t ‘bear’ to let private clinics overcharge, health coalition says

Posted: June 15, 2017

(June 9, 2017)

By: Tom Morrison,

Members of the Ontario Health Coalition have brought a seven-foot stuffed bear to Windsor to raise their concerns about the use of private clinics in the province.

The furry animal, which has travelled to other parts of the province, is meant to support their message: “We can’t ‘bear’ to lose Medicare.”

“The bear is a symbol of care and caring and it’s a friendly little reminder that we can’t bear to lose this system that we’ve had for one third of Canada’s history,” said Peter Boyle, a volunteer with the coalition.

There is court challenge in British Columbia in which a clinic is fighting to be able to charge clients for services. The outcome could affect the rest of the country.

Boyle said most Canadians say the aspect of their country of which they are most proud is the public health care system, and it shouldn’t be threatened.

“We want to make sure that our provincial government in Ontario stops it and follows the law, makes these clinics follow the law,” he said.

The lawyer representing the clinic in B.C. has argued private clinics alleviate wait times in the public health care system. The two acute care campuses in Windsor were frequently over capacity during the recent winter months.

Boyle said that is a “false argument” because a lot of private clinics are only immediately able to help people with the money to afford the services.

“When you start creating two tiers of system, one for the rich and one for the rest of us, then that’s going to take away from what we’ve had for 50 years,” he said.

“We’re fighting against that. We can’t have one for the rich and one for everyone else in Canada. That’s what these private clinics lead to.”

The Ontario Health Coalition will be releasing a report Monday about how private clinics have been overcharging patients for services. Ken Lewenza Jr., chair of the Windsor-Essex Health Coalition, said the patients may not even need some of these tests.

“The clinics are doing some of the really easy care services, leaving it to the hospitals that are doing the more acute,” he said. “They’re actually taking resources from the hospitals to do these easier things.”

Lewenza said more people need to become educated on the issue for it to be addressed.

“One thing that we know is the only reason we have publicly-funded health care in Canada is because everyday, ordinary people fought for it,” he said.

“What we’re going to try to do is mobilize people in our community to, first of all, think about how better to protect themselves when they go into clinics so they’re not being charged extra fees, but also how we can maintain those services.”

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