In some circles, it’s called ‘taking out the trash’. This year’s annual report to Parliament on the Canada Health Act was tabled after Question Period on a quiet Friday afternoon, when many journalists and MPs had their attention elsewhere. No doubt the government wanted as little attention as possible on a report that’s full of holes.
Most provinces are not reporting on the scope of for-profit health services, much less the impacts. The federal government is doing nothing to demand adequate reporting, and they have once again imposed miniscule fines. Three provinces – Quebec, Alberta and Ontario – left the questions on for-profit facilities completely blank. A number of others failed to give any detail, such as the number of services and level of payments going to private hospitals and clinics.
Two-tier access to diagnostics and other services violate the Act, which states that Canadians have the right to universal access to publicly funded services on uniform terms and conditions. The federal government won’t even demand information on private sector healthcare, much less challenge it.
The Canada Health Act gives Ottawa the power to fine provinces for violations. Last year, Ottawa imposed one penalty, deducting $29,019 from transfers to British Columbia. The year before, Ottawa deducted $126,775 from payments to British Columbia and $7,119 from Nova Scotia. In the past 11 years, Quebec has never been fined. Quebec is fast becoming a hotbed of private clinics.
CUPE joins the Canadian Health Coalition in calling on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health to conduct hearings on Health Canada’s policies and actions concerning Canada Health Act reporting, monitoring and enforcement.
CUPE also calls on the Auditor General of Canada to investigate how well Health Canada is meeting its obligations under the Canada Health Act, including follow up on violations identified in her 2002 report.