Hospital Professionals

Government must take action against private clinic user fees, OPSEU says

Stethoscope on stack of Canadian bank notes

Toronto – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is calling on the provincial government to take action immediately against private clinics that are charging patients illegal user fees for medically necessary services.

In a damning report released this week, the Ontario Health Coalition identified 88 private clinics across the country that charge such fees, 12 of which were in Ontario.

The report, entitled Private Clinics and the Threat to Public Medicare in Canada, highlights key findings of a survey involving 136 private clinics in nine provinces, and first-hand accounts from 250 patients subjected to these user fees.

“The findings are irrefutable,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “We know that Ontarians are being squeezed from every angle, but with these findings, there is simply no more room for excuses; this government must take responsibility and protect Ontario’s patients.”

For years, OPSEU has been raising concerns about the province’s chronic underfunding of health care, devastating cuts to hospital budgets, and the impact these cuts have had in fueling privatization.

“Hospital services have been systematically shuttered from our community hospitals, and then shipped out to private clinics, where patients are subjected to out-of-pocket fees,” said Sara Labelle, chair of OPSEU’s Hospital Professionals Division. “Then the doctors in these clinics go and bill OHIP on top of that. It’s the patients – often least able to pay, but afraid they’ve no other option – that are victimized by this scam.”

OPSEU, which is a proud member of the Ontario Health Coalition, is calling on the provincial and federal governments to enforce the Canada Health Act, and uphold the principles of fairness, equity, and compassion that underlie our public health care system.

“These private clinics should not be profiting off the sick and elderly,” said Thomas. “It’s outrageous and unethical, and that’s why we will continue to fight against privatization in all its forms.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Sara Labelle, 905-914-4037