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Quebec’s right-wing government has passed legislation allowing for-profit two-tier health care for the first time in Canada since the inception of Medicare.

Bill 33, which hasn’t yet come into force, creates centralized, coordinated waiting lists. However, it also legalizes private hospitals and clinics. The legislation allows for-profit clinics and doctors to obtain exclusive five-year contracts with hospitals for certain services, privatizing the delivery of public services.

Earlier this month, labour leaders joined a coalition of lawyers, researchers in health administration and physicians, speaking out against the growth of privatization in Quebec health care.

The Charest government’s bill also establishes legal two-tier hip and knee and cataract surgery clinics where doctors will charge patients out-of pocket fees to jump the queue.

Finally, the bill allows the list of two-tier services to be expanded without debate in the legislature, simply by committee.

With files from the Ontario Health Coalition and Coalition Solidarité Santé