Grits refuse to criticize private health care in Quebec
Michael Ignatieff plays a game called Hip Flip with an unidentified member of the audience while attending an election campaign town hall meeting in North Vancouver, April 17, 2011. REUTERS/Andy Clark
YELLOWKNIFE - As support for Canada's public health care system becomes a federal election issue, Michael Ignatieff is taking a gentle approach to the growth of private health care delivery in Quebec.
"Don't construe it as if I have to come in there with a hammer," said the Liberal leader. "I just have to appeal to what I think Quebecers believe, which is they want an accessible system for all and then we work with Quebec to finance the system."
Ignatieff didn't take the opportunity to denounce the expansion of private health clinics in Quebec.
"I've said, you know, the great thing about our health care system is that it has this national character - this pan-Canadian character - and then it has flexibility, it has regional variety, it has provincial variation, and that's appropriate," he said.
At the same time, he still backs the current public health system.
"I think the key thing to remember is there is a broad Canadian consensus in support of the universally accessible [system that is] free at the point of service, free for all Canadians."
Ignatieff's go-easy approach to the expansion of private clinics in Quebec comes as the Canadian Medical Association Journal reports such clinics are becoming more common.
Last month, the CMAJ quoted Dr. Zoltan Nagy, president of the Canadian Independent Medical Clinics Association, as estimating there are 300 private health clinics in Quebec.
Private clinics in the province are increasingly becoming the go-to solution for long wait times for cataract, hip, and knee surgeries.