The NDP is raising a red flag about a loophole in the Canada Health Act that allows private clinics to profit from out-of-province patients by charging them higher fees than in-province patients for insured services. 

NDP MP Don Davies tabled the motion on public health care funding and delivery one day after premiers accepted the Prime Minister’s 10-year health care funding proposal. The motion notes the Prime Minister’s flip flop from being critical of expanding for-profit clinics to applauding Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s proposal to expand for-profit clinics.

Davies flagged a “serious” loophole during the House of Commons debate last Thursday. “The Canada Health Act prohibits extra billing. This means that doctors are banned from charging patients more than the medicare rate for an insured service. However, private clinics are getting around that by operating only on patients from other provinces.” 

The motion calls on the government to ensure that the funding is not used to expand for-profit care, but instead to invest in the public health care system, to hire more staff and to reduce wait time. It calls for an amendment to Canada Health Act to close loopholes that allow for the expansion of two-tier health care in Canada. 

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh spoke in support of the motion. “We have a choice. We can stop the for-profit system from cannibalizing our hospital workers and our emergency room workers, or we can allow the American-style for-profit U.S. private health care system to flourish.” 

Singh urged, “Every member of Parliament now has a choice to make. I urge all members of the House of Commons to think of the families in their communities, vote in support of this motion and defend our universal public health care system.” 

Davies requested a recorded vote and the matter has been deferred to March 6, 2023.  

CUPE believes the federal government must insist on even more stringent conditions to ensure new funding is only spent on strengthening the public health care system. Access to care should be based on medical need, not ability to pay.