Statement from the Minister of Health on the Canada Health Act

OTTAWA, ON, March 10, 2023 /CNW/ – Universal, accessible and publicly funded healthcare is a point of pride for Canadians, and protecting it is a priority for our government. Collectively, we have made the choice to leave no one behind and deny no one necessary care, regardless of their ability to pay.

Under the Canada Health Act, it is made clear that no Canadian should be paying out of pocket for medically necessary services. Provinces and territories have taken meaningful steps, but more work is needed to ensure that there are no patient charges for insured health services. There has been evidence of residents paying out of pocket to access diagnostic services such as ultrasounds, MRI and CT scans—services that should be accessible at no cost. This is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

Over the coming weeks, our government will issue Canada Health Transfer payments, and deductions for patient charges levied during fiscal 2020-2021 will be applied, including the first-ever deductions under the Diagnostic Services Policy. Through this process, we are ensuring that Canadians don’t pay out of pocket for medically necessary services. Let it be clear, these deductions reflect an estimate of the amount paid out of pocket by Canadians to access insured health services that should be free of charge. We will work with provinces and territories to eliminate future patient charges and the circumstances that led to them. In doing so, provinces and territories may be eligible for reimbursement of their deductions under the Canada Health Act Reimbursement Policy.

In addition, this week I sent a letter to my provincial and territorial colleagues to reinforce the shared responsibility to protect our universal, publicly funded healthcare.

As the nature of care evolves, we must ensure the Canada Health Act evolves with it. During the pandemic, we have seen new ways of providing care. While there are many benefits to these, we have also seen an increase in reports of new patient charges to access insured health services that would otherwise be covered if provided in-person by a physician. It is critical that access to medically necessary services, whether provided in-person or virtually, remains based on medical need and free of charge. My communication to my provincial and territorial counterparts is a reminder of our collective responsibility in ensuring Canadians’ ability to access medically necessary services without having to pay out of pocket, no matter where they live or how care is delivered.

As we continue to work together with provinces and territories to improve our healthcare system, Canadians expect us to do so in a manner that strengthens its public, accessible and universal nature, which is what we will continue to do.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.

SOURCE Health Canada

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