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MEDICARE AT RISK: MCGUINTY CALLS ON HARPER TO DEFEND AGAINST ALBERTA'S PROPOSALS TO ALLOW DOCTORS TO WORK IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SYSTEM (The Toronto Sun)

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The Toronto Sun 2006.03.02 Final News 16 1. photo of DALTON MCGUINTY "PM's court" 2. photo of STEPHEN HARPER ILLUSTRATION: Respect act BYLINE: ANTONELLA ARTUSO, QUEEN'S PARK BUREAU CHIEF WORD COUNT: 231 Premier Dalton McGuinty is calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to come to the defence of public health care. McGuinty told reporters yesterday that he views Alberta's proposal to allow doctors to work in both a public and private system and to permit patients to buy quicker access to hip and knee surgeries as a violation of the Canada Health Act. Last week Harper told premiers he would allow "experimentation and innovation" only within the confines of the Act, which does not permit patients to purchase medically necessary health care out of pocket. Meanwhile, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein admitted the reforms may violate the Canada Health Act, but he's willing to take that risk. 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 yesterday. "The ball is clearly in the prime minister's court," McGuinty said. Yesterday Harper praised recent Quebec health care reforms but refused to pass an early judgment on proposals by his home province. Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman said yesterday that the Alberta scheme would weaken the public system. "It's a threat to public medicare and it looks like a pretty deliberate offence to the Canada Health Act," he said. But critics said McGuinty's government is no great defender of public health care. The Liberals powered through a bill yesterday to create local health integration networks (LHINs) over the objections of four major health care worker unions. The unions argue that LHINs will allow the Ontario government to do by stealth what Alberta has done more 123

03/02/2006

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