Public Health Care Advocates Call on the Federal Government to Take Action to Stop Extra-Billing Practices in Quebec

Ottawa, Ontario: The Canadian Health Coalition was in Montreal today at a press conference to show its support of the Réseau FADOQ’s application to the federal court of Canada for a motion of mandamus. This motion is to force the federal government to take measures to stop the extra-billing of Quebec patients, which is prohibited by the Canada Health Act (CHA).

The Federal government is responsible for ensuring the provinces and territories abide by the CHA when they deliver health care. However, in the past 10 years there has been very little monitoring of the CHA. While there are gross violations happening across Canada ―such as the extra-billing of patients in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario ― the federal government has turned a blind eye.

Last year, Quebec’s National Assembly legalised extra-billing by passing Bill 20. In concrete terms, it means that it is now common in the province to pay over $500 for anesthesia when having a colonoscopy or $80 for eye drops during the treatment of macular degeneration.

The conditions the provinces and territories must respect to obtain the Canada Health Transfer is clarified in the CHA: Article 18 specifies that a province or territory is not entitled to full compensation for extra-billing, article 20 which sets out that extra billed fees will be deducted dollar for dollar from the federal contribution.

“It should not be up to a civil society group to go to the court in order for the federal government to do their job. It’s time for the federal government to recommit themselves to the principles, criteria and enforcement of the Canada Health Act,” says Adrienne Silnicki, National Coordinator, Canadian Health Coalition. “We’re calling on the federal government to do the right thing to ensure all people in Canada can access the health care they need regardless of their ability to pay, wherever they live in Canada,” says Silnicki.

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