11/06/2012 04:09 EST | Updated 01/06/2013 05:12 EST

Quebec government: Two-tier health care is here, and we don't want it

QUEBEC - The Quebec government says two-tier health care is a reality in the province and that needs to change.

The statement from the health minister Tuesday came after a report from the provincial ombudsman that lamented the gap between what Quebecers are told about their health system and what actually exists.

Health Minister Rejean Hebert conceded that it does appear that some people are getting faster access to service with their credit card.

"There is a problem with two-tier health care in Quebec," Hebert told reporters.

"I think it's unacceptable."

He said the phenomenon stems from deficiencies in the public system that must be addressed, with better front-line care and access to radiology and other services. He said the PQ plans to increase the number of family doctors by 170, and improve access for 750,000 people.

Last week, the ombudsman delivered a report that lamented a growing gap between the official health system and what exists for those who can pay.

Raymonde Saint-Germain said private health care isn't necessarily bad — what matters is that services are available to everyone.

The Canada Health Act does allow some forms of private care.

But the Trudeau-era law says that, to receive federal health transfers, provinces must offer fully insured services in cases that are medically necessary for the purpose of maintaining health, preventing disease or diagnosing or treating an injury, illness or disability.