Canadians urged to post health-care violations to new website

Meagan Fitzpatrick, Canwest News Service

Published: Monday, February 04

OTTAWA – Canadians are being encouraged to know their health-care rights and publicly report violations on a website as part of a campaign launched Monday.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions teamed up on the campaign which includes the website and a pamphlet designed to inform the public about the Canada Health Act and provincial legislation governing health care.

The groups say that medically necessary services, whether received at a doctor’s office, hospital or clinic, should be 100 per cent paid for by government, but too often patients pay out of their own pocket for things that should be covered.

Despite the protections provided for by the Canada Health Act we know that patients sometimes get charged for medically necessary care. This practice is both morally wrong and illegal,” Paul Moist, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said in a news release.

The Know Your Medicare Rights campaign is meant to both inform the public and pressure governments, federal and provincial, to enforce the rules, the website says.

It gives examples of what the unions say are illegal fees, such as tray fees, facility fees, block fees and extra-billing. A tray fee, for example, is when patients are charged for the supplies and equipment used in a surgery.

Also on the site is a comprehensive guide called Defending Medicare, which it says is intended to help activists challenge the privatization of health care.

“Our public health-care system is being eroded by privatization in new ways and at an ever-increasing pace,” the document reads. “For-profits and their allies in government and the courts are finding new inroads for private insurance, for-profit delivery and two-tier access, working around and sometimes in direct violation of the law.”

Canadians who think their health-care rights have been violated are encouraged to visit the site and tell their story, as well as write to their member of Parliament and federal Health Minister Tony Clement.

The website also recommends filing a complaint with the relevant provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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