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Klein to premiers: butt out: Outrage in Ontario 'premature speculation' over alleged violations of health act, premier says (Edmonton Journal) PUBLICATION: DATE: EDITION: SECTION: PAGE: BYLINE: SOURCE: DATELINE: ILLUSTRATION: WORD COUNT:

Edmonton Journal 2006.03.02 Final News A1 / Front James Baxter The Edmonton Journal EDMONTON Photo: Larry Wong, The Journal / Alberta Health MinisterIris Evans outlines her government's health care proposals on Tuesday. 692

EDMONTON − The rest of Canada should mind its own business and let Alberta examine all possible ways to cut health−care costs, Premier Ralph Klein said Wednesday. Klein said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is "suffering from premature speculation" after McGuinty called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to step in to protect the Canada Health Act. Klein said he doesn't know whether the 10−point legislative framework unveiled Tuesday, which would allow doctors to work simultaneously in public and private systems, will violate the act, because public consultations haven't been held. It may come to the point when Alberta will have to weigh the possibility of federal penalties against the benefits of the reforms, Klein said. "Weighing one against the other, that is precisely it." Klein left open the possibility that no legislation will be tabled after the one−month consultation period, saying he plans to table the legislation "unless we receive a better proposal. "What Albertans think of those ideas, to me, is a lot more important than what Mr. McGuinty thinks," Klein said. "The ball is clearly in the prime minister's court now," McGuinty told reporters earlier in the day. "He (Harper) restated his position once again at our dinner this past Friday. He specifically said he was going to encourage experimentation and innovation within the Canada Health Act." McGuinty said Ontario's health reforms, unlike Alberta's, are aimed at all citizens, "not just those who can afford to jump to the front of the queue." Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman went further, saying Alberta's plans amount to a "pretty deliberate" attempt to circumvent the Canada Health Act.

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