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Front Page − Health Canada ALBERTA'S THIRD WAY Klein willing to defy Ottawa Premier says medicare plans 'may violate the Canada Health Act' (Globe and Mail) PUBLICATION: IDN: DATE: PAGE: BYLINE: SECTION: EDITION: DATELINE: WORDS: WORD COUNT:


KATHERINE HARDING, GLORIA GALLOWAY EDMONTON, OTTAWA Alberta's sweeping health−care proposals aren't "written in stone," Premier Ralph Klein said yesterday, but warned he would not shy away from a fight with Ottawa to get what he wants. Mr. Klein said he doesn't know yet how much of his 10−point plan will remain intact after a public consultation period, scheduled to last a month. If the subsequent legislation breaches federal health rules, however, he's ready to do battle with the new Conservative government. "It may violate the Canada Health Act," he told reporters. Mr. Klein's comments came hours after Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned the province that any changes to its health−care system must conform to the Canada Health Act and suggested that he greatly prefers Quebec's solution for reducing waiting times for treatment. Mr. Harper did not directly condemn any part of his home province's new health policy, which includes a proposal to allow doctors to work in both the public and private systems and to permit patients to pay to have some non−emergency procedures done quickly. But he served notice that his government will be carefully examining the Alberta plan, which, at this point, is little more than a discussion paper, and will have a full response in the days to come. "As we do our own review of the proposals that Alberta has put out, we are going to want to satisfy ourselves that they are within the Canada Health Act," Mr. Harper told reporters during a news conference in the lobby of the House of Commons. "And I would think the government of Alberta would want to do the same thing, given that I know the Premier and the government of Alberta have long committed −− and repeatedly committed in legislation and elsewhere −− that they will respect the Canada Health Act." Mr. Harper continued: "And that's a commitment they've made not just to the government of Canada, that's a commitment they've made to Alberta citizens." Mr. Klein said, however, that he wouldn't rule out changing a provincial law that currently enshrines the Canada Health Act in Alberta's own legislation. 1


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