Health costs: Legault, Ford & Trudeau
Ontario is proposing ending its Out-of-Country Travellers Program to save nearly $12 million. It used to pay up to $400 per day for ICU care. Some 40,000 Ontarians travel outside of Canada each year and require health services; 90% already obtain private health insurance.
However, some with severe pre-existing illnesses or those who have changed the dose of medications within 3 – 6 months of travelling may be unable to qualify for any private travel insurance or face exorbitant premiums. Quebec and other provinces still provide a small amount of reimbursement that does not depend on prior health.
The Doug Ford government is implying that persons should be discouraged from leaving Canada unless they are wealthy enough to pay out-of-pocket. Cancellation of this coverage does violate the Canada Health Act.
Justin Trudeau might intervene. On February 8, he stated (Ottawa Citizen), “We have acted in the past when provinces have not aligned themselves with the Canada Health Act.”
However, he should also address Quebec’s longstanding violation of a different part of Section 11 of the Act. That province pays only its own rate when its residents receive medical care in another province, although the CHA clearly indicates that the host-province rate is to apply. As a result, few MDs elsewhere in Canada will accept a Quebec medicare card. This affects persons in West Quebec who seek specialized services in Ottawa and most Quebecers who are treated for unexpected problems while in another province or territory. It also impacts Quebecers who need routine medical care for hypertension, diabetes mellitus, etc. during the first three months after a permanent move to another part of Canada. They are then supposedly “covered” by a Quebec health card that few will accept.
Thus Trudeau should not criticize the Doug Ford government if he is unwilling to penalize Quebec for his its chronic violation of the CHA.
Persons deserve to be treated equally under federal law on both sides of the Ottawa River.
Charles S. Shaver, MD