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Groups take legal action to get Ottawa to enforce Canada Health Act in Quebec

MONTREAL — Various health groups are getting involved in legal action aimed at making sure the federal government enforces the Canada Health Act in Quebec.

The plaintiffs are represented by Jean-Pierre Menard, a well-known Quebec lawyer.

Menard has filed a petition in Federal Court asking it to issue a writ to order the federal health minister to apply the act in Quebec to counter provincial legislation.

The plaintiffs say the Quebec government instituted two-tier medicine last November when it passed Bill 20, which they argue violates the health act by permitting and regulating add-on fees.

They say this type of legal action for a matter pertaining to the federal health legislation has never been attempted before.

Menard and the other parties held a news conference in Montreal this morning.

"Extra billing and user fees are, in fact, barriers to health care," said Dr. Brian Hutchison of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.

"When doctors begin charging auxiliary fees, it creates a two-tier health care system: one for those who can afford it and one for those who cannot.

"Research shows that user fees are an impediment to care, especially for low-income people who often don't access care until they are so sick they can't avoid it. This not only damages their quality of life, but leads to higher health-care costs."

The Canadian Press

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