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Klein plan under attack: Ontario calls on PM to stop Alberta health reforms (National Post) PUBLICATION: DATE: EDITION: SECTION: PAGE: BYLINE: SOURCE: DATELINE:

National Post 2006.03.02 All but Toronto News A1 / Front Lee Greenberg and Juliet O'Neill, with files from KellyCryderman and Aaron Derfel CanWest News Service TORONTOCANADA Black &White Photo: Greg Southam, CanWest News Service /Alberta health care ILLUSTRATION: reforms would allow patients to pay for faster treatment.; Black &White Photo: Stethascope. WORD COUNT: 768 TORONTO − Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty yesterday called on Stephen Harper to block planned Alberta health care reforms that would allow patients to pay for faster access to some medical procedures. "The ball is clearly in the Prime Minister's court now," Mr. McGuinty said. "[Mr. 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." Mr. 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." Mr. McGuinty's Health Minister, George Smitherman, said Alberta's plans amount to a "pretty deliberate" attempt to circumvent the Canada Health Act. A day earlier, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein unveiled his long−awaited health−reform framework −− dubbed the "third way." It includes a 10−point policy plan that aims to slash waiting times for a range of medical procedures and increase access for all Albertans, while corralling out−of−control health budgets and keeping costs in line with the rate of inflation. The reforms would allow the public to pay out of pocket for non−essential surgeries, including those involving hips, knees, cataracts and possibly hernias, according to Alberta Health officials. But as soon as it was released, critics warned it violated the Canada Health Act and could force a showdown with Ottawa, especially since Mr. Harper has vowed to protect the act, which sets out accessibility and other public health care principles. Mr. Klein acknowledged on Tuesday the proposals could "perhaps" change the face of medicare in this country should they be passed into law. Yesterday, however, he said he does not want to contravene the Canada Health Act. 9

03/02/2006

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