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Canada’s nurses and hospital workers have teamed up to launch a Know your Medicare Rights campaign. “Anywhere in Canada, medically necessary services - whether at a doctor’s office, a hospital, a surgical centre or a diagnostic clinic - are 100 per cent paid for by government,” explained Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU). “This right is protected under the Canada Health Act and under provincial legislation,” she added.

Despite the protections provided for by the Canada Health Act – we know that patients sometimes get charged for medically necessary care. This practise is both morally wrong and illegal,” said Paul Moist, national president of CUPE.

The groups have launched a website www.yourmedicarerights.ca, and produced a pamphlet as part of the campaign to inform the public of their medicare rights.

The Canada Health Act sets out the framework for Canada’s medicare system. To qualify for federal funding under the Act, each province and territory must meet the following criteria – public administration, universality, comprehensiveness, accessibility, and portability,” Silas added.

In addition to our protections as set out under the Canada Health Act,” said Moist, “many provinces have laws making it illegal to extra-bill, charge user fees, or in other ways undermine access to health care. These laws only work if they are enforced and the Harper government by not enforcing the act is undermining medicare.”

Our fight against private payment for medically necessary care is part of a bigger fight for non-profit, high quality health care available to all,” concluded Silas.

Together, CUPE and CFNU represent 700,000 workers across Canada.

Defending Medicare