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Nurses vehemently oppose Quebec decision to implement user fees – News Release

Ottawa, April 8, 2010 – Nurses for Medicare expressed its disappointment at the Quebec government’s decision to implement user fees for medical visits. In addition to a new health tax that does not vary according to income, the recent Quebec budget calls for patients to pay a $25 fee for each visit.

“This violates the spirit of the Canada Health Act, which is based on the principle of universal access. The $25-per-visit fee will act as a deterrent to people seeking medical attention, and will have a particularly marked impact on the poor and people such as chronic disease sufferers who require more frequent medical follow-up,” said Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions. “This decision unjustly penalizes the poor and the sick.”

There are fears that this decision will have disastrous downstream consequences for the people who rely on the Quebec health system. “While we understand that governments at all levels are under pressure to reduce deficits, user fees are not the answer. People with financial difficulties will choose to delay their decision to seek medical attention until their symptoms become too severe to ignore, at which point the cost to the system will be far greater. The Quebec government should focus on prevention and early diagnosis in order to generate cost savings,” said Kaaren Neufeld, president of the Canadian Nurses Association.

Nurses for Medicare will continue to voice its opposition to Quebec’s decision, and will urge the federal Minister of Health to investigate the new user fee as a possible violation of the Canada Health Act.