ARCHIVED - Canada Health Act Annual Report 2009-2010

The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Minister of Health
Health Canada

ISBN: 978-1-100-16312-3 (PDF Version)
Cat.: H1-4/2010E-PDF
HC Pub: 100379 (PDF Version)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Health Canada would like to acknowledge the work and effort that went into producing this Annual Report. It is through the dedication and timely commitment of the following departments of health and their staff that we are able to bring you this report on the administration and operation of the Canada Health Act:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Health and Community Services
  • Prince Edward Island Department of Health and Wellness
  • Nova Scotia Department of Health
  • New Brunswick Department of Health
  • Quebec Department of Health and Social Services
  • Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Manitoba Health
  • Saskatchewan Health
  • Alberta Health and Wellness
  • British Columbia Ministry of Health Services
  • Yukon Health and Social Services
  • Northwest Territories Department of Health and Social Services
  • Nunavut Department of Health and Social Services

We also greatly appreciate the extensive work effort that was put into this report by our production team: the desktop publishing unit, the translators, editors and concordance experts, and staff of Health Canada at headquarters and in the regional offices.

Introduction

Canada has a predominantly publicly financed and administered health care system. The Canadian health insurance system is achieved through 13 interlocking provincial and territorial health insurance plans, and is designed to ensure that all eligible residents of Canada have reasonable access to medically necessary hospital and physician services on a prepaid basis, without charges related to the provision of insured health services.

The Canadian health insurance system evolved into its present form over more than five decades. Saskatchewan was the first province to establish universal, public hospital insurance in 1947 and, ten years later, the Government of Canada passed the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act (1957) to share in the cost of these services with the provinces and territories. By 1961, all the provinces and territories had public insurance plans that provided universal access to hospital services. Saskatchewan again pioneered by providing insurance for physician services, beginning in 1962. The Government of Canada enacted the Medical Care Act in 1966 to cost share the provision of insured physician services with the provinces and territories. By 1972, all provincial and territorial plans had been extended to include physician services.

In 1979, at the request of the federal government, Justice Emmett Hall undertook a review of the state of health services in Canada. In his report, he affirmed that health care services in Canada ranked among the best in the world, but warned that extra-billing by doctors and user fees levied by hospitals were creating a two-tiered system that threatened the universal accessibility of care. This report, and the national debate it generated, led to the enactment of the Canada Health Act in 1984.

The Canada Health Act is Canada's federal health insurance legislation and defines the national principles that govern the Canadian health insurance system, namely, public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility. These principles are symbols of the underlying Canadian values of equity and solidarity.

The roles and responsibilities for Canada's health care system are shared between the federal and provincial/ territorial governments. The provincial and territorial governments have primary jurisdiction in the administration and delivery of health care services. This includes setting their own priorities, administering their health care budgets and managing their own resources. The federal government, under the Canada Health Act, sets out the criteria and conditions that must be satisfied by the provincial and territorial health insurance plans for provinces or territories to qualify for their full share of the cash contribution available under the federal Canada Health Transfer.

On an annual basis, the federal Minister of Health is required to report to Parliament on the administration and operation of the Canada Health Act, as set out in section 23 of the Act. The vehicle for so doing is the Canada Health Act Annual Report. While the principal and intended audience for the report is Parliamentarians, it is a public document that offers a comprehensive report on insured services in each of the provinces and territories. The annual report is structured to address the mandated reporting requirements of the Act; as such, its scope does not extend to commenting on the status of the Canadian health care system as a whole.

For the most part, provincial and territorial health care insurance plans meet the criteria and conditions of the Canada Health Act. However, when instances of possible non-compliance with the Act arise, Health Canada's approach to the administration of the Act emphasizes transparency, consultation and dialogue with provincial and territorial health care ministries. The application of financial penalties through deductions under the Canada Health Transfer is considered only as a last resort when all other options to resolve an issue collaboratively have been exhausted. Pursuant to the commitment made by premiers under the 1999 Social Union Framework Agreement, federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed through an exchange of letters, in April 2002, to a Canada Health Act Dispute Avoidance and Resolution (DAR) process. The DAR process was formalized in the First Ministers' 2004 Accord. Although the DAR process includes dispute resolution provisions, the federal Minister of Health retains the final authority to interpret and enforce the Canada Health Act.

In 2009-2010, the most prominent concerns with respect to compliance under the Canada Health Act remained patient charges and queue jumping for medically necessary health services at private clinics. Health Canada has made these concerns known to the provinces that allow these charges.

Chapter 1 - Canada Health Act Overview

This section describes the Canada Health Act, its requirements and key definitions under the Act. Also described are the regulations and regulatory provisions of the Act and the interpretation letters by former federal Ministers of Health Jake Epp and Diane Marleau to their provincial and territorial counterparts that are used in the interpretation and application of the Act.

What is the Canada Health Act?

The Canada Health Act is Canada's federal legislation for publicly funded health care insurance. The Act sets out the primary objective of Canadian health care policy, which is "to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers."

The Act establishes criteria and conditions related to insured health services and extended health care services that the provinces and territories must fulfill to receive the full federal cash contribution under the Canada Health Transfer (CHT).

The aim of the Act is to ensure that all eligible residents of Canada have reasonable access to medically necessary services on a prepaid basis, without charges related to the provision of insured health services.

Key Definitions Under the Canada Health Act

Insured persons are eligible residents of a province or territory. A resident of a province is defined in the Act as "a person lawfully entitled to be or to remain in Canada who makes his home and is ordinarily present in the province, but does not include a tourist, a transient or a visitor to the province."

Persons excluded under the Act include serving members of the Canadian Forces or Royal Canadian Mounted Police and inmates of federal penitentiaries.

Insured health services are medically necessary hospital, physician and surgical-dental services (performed by a dentist in a hospital, where a hospital is required for the proper performance of the procedure) provided to insured persons.

Insured hospital services are defined under the Act and include medically necessary in- and out-patient services such as accommodation and meals at the standard or public ward level and preferred accommodation if medically required; nursing service; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures, together with the necessary interpretations; drugs, biologicals and related preparations when administered in the hospital; use of operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities, including necessary equipment and supplies; medical and surgical equipment and supplies; use of radiotherapy facilities; use of physiotherapy facilities; and services provided by persons who receive remuneration therefore from the hospital, but does not include services that are excluded by the regulations.

Insured physician services are defined under the Act as "medically required services rendered by medical practitioners." Medically required physician services are generally determined by physicians in conjunction with their provincial and territorial health insurance plans.

Insured surgical-dental services are services provided by a dentist in a hospital, where a hospital setting is required to properly perform the procedure.

Extended health care services care services as defined in the Act are certain aspects of long-term residential care (nursing home intermediate care and adult residential care services), and the health aspects of home care and ambulatory care services.

Requirements of the Canada Health Act

The Canada Health Act contains nine requirements that the provinces and territories must fulfill in order to qualify for the full amount of their cash entitlement under the CHT. They are:

  • five program criteria that apply only to insured health services;
  • two conditions that apply to insured health services and extended health care services; and
  • extra-billing and user charges provisions that apply only to insured health services.

The Criteria

1. Public Administration (section 8)

The public administration criterion, set out in section 8 of the Canada Health Act, applies to provincial and territorial health care insurance plans. The intent of the public administration criterion is that the provincial and territorial health care insurance plans be administered and operated on a non-profit basis by a public authority, which is accountable to the provincial or territorial government for decision-making on benefit levels and services, and whose records and accounts are publicly audited. However, the criterion does not prevent the public authority from contracting out the administrative services necessary for the administration of the provincial and territorial health care insurance plans.

The public administration criterion pertains only to the administration of provincial and territorial health insurance plans and does not preclude private facilities or providers from supplying insured health services as long as no eligible resident is charged in relation to these services.

2. Comprehensiveness (section 9)

The comprehensiveness criterion of the Act requires that the health care insurance plan of a province or territory must cover all insured health services provided by hospitals, physicians or dentists (i.e., surgical-dental services that require a hospital setting) and, where the law of the province or territory so permits, similar or additional services rendered by other health care practitioners.

3. Universality (section 10)

Under the universality criterion, all insured residents of a province or territory must be entitled to the insured health services provided by the provincial or territorial health care insurance plan on uniform terms and conditions. Provinces and territories generally require that residents register with the plans to establish entitlement.

Newcomers to Canada, such as immigrants or Canadians returning from other countries to live in Canada, may be subject to a waiting period by a province or territory, not to exceed three months, before they are entitled to receive insured health services.

4. Portability (section 11)

Residents moving from one province or territory to another must continue to be covered for insured health services by the "home" jurisdiction during any waiting period imposed by the new province or territory of residence. The waiting period for eligibility to a provincial or territorial health care insurance plan must not exceed three months. After the waiting period, the new province or territory of residence assumes responsibility for health care coverage. However, it is the responsibility of residents to inform their province or territory's health care insurance plan that they are leaving and to register with the health care insurance plan of their new province or territory.

Residents who are temporarily absent from their home province or territory or from Canada, must continue to be covered for insured health services during their absence. This allows individuals to travel or be absent from their home province or territory, within a prescribed duration, while retaining their health insurance coverage.

The portability criterion does not entitle a person to seek services in another province, territory or country, but is intended to permit a person to receive necessary services in relation to an urgent or emergent need when absent on a temporary basis, such as on business or vacation.

If insured persons are temporarily absent in another province or territory, the portability criterion requires that insured services be paid at the host province's rate. If insured persons are temporarily out of the country, insured services are to be paid at the home province's rate.

Prior approval by the health care insurance plan in a person's home province or territory may also be required before coverage is extended for elective (non-emergency) services to a resident while temporarily absent from his/her province or territory.

5. Accessibility (section 12)

The intent of the accessibility criterion is to ensure that insured persons in a province or territory have reasonable access to insured hospital, medical and surgical-dental services on uniform terms and conditions, unprecluded or unimpeded, either directly or indirectly, by charges (user charges or extra-billing) or other means (e.g., discrimination on the basis of age, health status or financial circumstances).

In addition, the health care insurance plans of the province or territory must provide:

  • reasonable compensation to physicians and dentists for all the insured health services they provide; and
  • payment to hospitals to cover the cost of insured health services.

Reasonable access in terms of physical availability of medically necessary services has been interpreted under the Canada Health Act using the "where and as available" rule. Thus, residents of a province or territory are entitled to have access on uniform terms and conditions to insured health services at the setting "where" the services are provided and "as" the services are available in that setting.

The Conditions

1. Information (section 13(a))

The provincial and territorial governments shall provide information to the Minister of Health as may be reasonably required, in relation to insured health services and extended health care services, for the purposes of the Act.

2. Recognition (section 13(b))

The provincial and territorial governments shall recognize the federal financial contributions toward both insured and extended health care services.

Extra-billing and User Charges

The provisions of the Canada Health Act, which discourage extra-billing and user charges for insured health services in a province or territory, are outlined in sections 18 to 21. If it can be confirmed that either extra-billing or user charges exist in a province or territory, a mandatory deduction from the federal cash transfer to that province or territory is required under the Act. The amount of such a deduction for a fiscal year is determined by the federal Minister of Health based on information provided by the province or territory in accordance with the Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations (described below).

Extra-billing (section 18)

Under the Act, extra-billing is defined as the billing for an insured health service rendered to an insured person by a medical practitioner or a dentist (i.e., a dentist providing insured surgical-dental services in a hospital setting) in an amount in addition to any amount paid or to be paid for that service by the health care insurance plan of a province or territory. For example, if a physician was to charge a patient any amount for an office visit that is insured by the provincial or territorial health insurance plan, the amount charged would constitute extra-billing. Extra-billing is seen as a barrier or impediment for people seeking medical care, and is therefore contrary to the accessibility criterion.

User Charges (section 19)

The Act defines user charges as any charge for an insured health service other than extra-billing that is permitted by a provincial or territorial health care insurance plan and is not payable by the plan. For example, if patients were charged a facility fee for receiving an insured service at a hospital or clinic, that fee would be considered a user charge. User charges are not permitted under the Act because, as is the case with extra-billing, they constitute a barrier or impediment to access.

Other Elements of the Act

Regulations (section 22)

Section 22 of the Canada Health Act enables the federal government to make regulations for administering the Act in the following areas:

  • defining the services included in the Act's definition of "extended health care services";
  • prescribing which services to exclude from hospital services;
  • prescribing the types of information that the federal Minister of Health may reasonably require, and the times at which and the manner in which that information may be provided; and
  • prescribing how provinces and territories are required to recognize the CHT in their documents, advertising or promotional materials.

To date, the only regulations in force under the Act are the Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations. These regulations require the provinces and territories to provide estimates of extra-billing and user charges before the beginning of a fiscal year so that appropriate penalties can be levied. They must also provide financial statements showing the amounts actually charged so that reconciliations with any estimated charges can be made. (A copy of these regulations is provided in Annex A.)

Penalty Provisions of the Canada Health Act

Mandatory Penalty Provisions

Under the Act, provinces and territories that allow extra-billing and user charges are subject to mandatory dollar-for-dollar deductions from the federal transfer payments under the CHT. In plain terms, this means that when it has been determined that a province or territory has allowed $500,000 in extra-billing by physicians, the federal cash contribution to that province or territory will be reduced by that same amount.

Discretionary Penalty Provisions

Non-compliance with one of the five criteria or two conditions of the Act is subject to a discretionary penalty. The amount of any deduction from federal transfer payments under the CHT is based on the gravity of the default.

The Canada Health Act sets out a consultation process that must be undertaken with the province or territory before discretionary penalties can be levied. To date, the discretionary penalty provisions of the Act have not been applied.

Excluded Services and Persons

Although the Canada Health Act requires that insured health services be provided to insured persons in a manner that is consistent with the criteria and conditions set out in the Act, not all Canadian residents or health services fall under the scope of the Act. There are two categories of exclusion for insured services:

  • services that fall outside the definition of insured health services; and
  • certain services and groups of persons are excluded from the definitions of insured services and insured persons.

These exclusions are discussed below.

Non-insured Health Services

In addition to the medically necessary hospital and physician services covered by the Canada Health Act, provinces and territories also provide a range of programs and services outside the scope of the Act. These are provided at provincial and territorial discretion, on their own terms and conditions, and vary from one province or territory to another. Additional services that may be provided include pharmacare, ambulance services and optometric services.

The additional services provided by provinces and territories are often targeted to specific population groups (e.g., children, seniors or social assistance recipients), and may be partially or fully covered by provincial and territorial health insurance plans.

A number of services provided by hospitals and physicians are not considered medically necessary, and thus are not insured under provincial and territorial health insurance legislation. Uninsured hospital services for which patients may be charged include preferred hospital accommodation unless prescribed by a physician, private duty nursing services and the provision of telephones and televisions. Uninsured physician services for which patients may be charged include telephone advice, the provision of medical certificates required for work, school, insurance purposes and fitness clubs, testimony in court and cosmetic services.

Excluded Persons

The Canada Health Act definition of "insured person" excludes members of the Canadian Forces, persons appointed to a position of rank within the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and persons serving a term of imprisonment within a federal penitentiary. The Government of Canada provides coverage to these groups through separate federal programs.

As well, other categories of residents such as landed immigrants and Canadians returning to live from other countries may be subject to a waiting period by a province or territory. The Act stipulates that the waiting period cannot exceed three months.

In addition, the definition of "insured health services" excludes services to persons provided under any other Act of Parliament (e.g., refugees) or under the workers' compensation legislation of a province or territory.

The exclusion of these persons from insured health service coverage predates the adoption of the Act and is not intended to constitute differences in access to publicly insured health care.

Policy Interpretation Letters

There are two key policy statements that clarify the federal position on the Canada Health Act. These statements were made in the form of ministerial letters from former federal ministers of health to their provincial and territorial counterparts. Both letters are reproduced in Annex B of this report.

Epp Letter

In June 1985, approximately one year following the passage of the Canada Health Act in Parliament, then-federal Minister of Health and Welfare Jake Epp wrote to his provincial and territorial counterparts to set out and confirm the federal position on the interpretation and implementation of the Act.

Minister Epp's letter followed several months of consultation with his provincial and territorial counterparts. The letter sets forth statements of federal policy intent that clarify the Act's criteria, conditions and regulatory provisions. These clarifications have been used by the federal government in assessing and interpreting compliance with the Act. The Epp letter remains an important reference for interpreting the Act.

Marleau Letter - Federal Policy on Private Clinics

Between February 1994 and December 1994, a series of seven federal/provincial/territorial meetings dealing wholly or in part with private clinics took place. At issue was the growth of private clinics providing medically necessary services funded partially by the public system and partially by patients, and their impact on Canada's universal, publicly funded health care system.

At the September 1994 federal/provincial/territorial meeting of health ministers in Halifax, all ministers of health present, with the exception of Alberta's health minister, agreed to "take whatever steps are required to regulate the development of private clinics in Canada."

Diane Marleau, the federal Minister of Health at the time, wrote to all provincial and territorial ministers of health on January 6, 1995, to announce the new Federal Policy on Private Clinics. The Minister's letter provided the federal interpretation of the Canada Health Act as it relates to the issue of facility fees charged directly to patients receiving medically necessary services at private clinics. The letter stated that the definition of "hospital" contained in the Act includes any public facility that provides acute, rehabilitative or chronic care. Thus, when a provincial/territorial health insurance plan pays the physician fee for a medically necessary service delivered at a private clinic, it must also pay the facility fee or face a deduction from federal transfer payments.

Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Process

In April 2002, then-federal Minister of Health A. Anne McLellan outlined in a letter to her provincial and territorial counterparts a Canada Health Act Dispute Avoidance and Resolution process, which was agreed to by provinces and territories, except Quebec. The process meets federal and provincial/territorial interests of avoiding disputes related to the interpretation of the principles of the Act and, when this is not possible, resolving disputes in a fair, transparent and timely manner.

The process includes the dispute avoidance activities of government-to-government information exchange; discussions and clarification of issues as they arise; active participation of governments in ad hoc federal/provincial/ territorial committees on Act-related issues; and Canada Health Act advance assessments, upon request.

Where dispute avoidance activities prove unsuccessful, dispute resolution activities may be initiated, beginning with government-to-government fact-finding and negotiations. If these are unsuccessful, either minister of health involved may refer the issues to a third-party panel to undertake fact-finding and provide advice and recommendations.

The federal Minister of Health has the final authority to interpret and enforce the Canada Health Act. In deciding whether to invoke the non-compliance provisions of the Act, the Minister will take the panel's report into consideration.

A copy of Minister McLellan's letter is included in Annex C of this report.

Frequently asked questions about the Canada Health Act can be viewed by visiting http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hcs-sss/medi-assur/faq-eng.php.

Chapter 2 - Administration and Compliance

Administration

In administering the Canada Health Act, the federal Minister of Health is assisted by Health Canada staff at headquarters and in the regions and by the Department of Justice.

Health Canada works with the provinces and territories to ensure that the principles of the Act are respected and always strives to resolve issues through consultation, collaboration and cooperation.

The Canada Health Act Division

The Canada Health Act Division at Health Canada is responsible for administering the Act. Members of the Division located in Ottawa and their colleagues in regional Health Canada offices fulfill the following ongoing functions:

  • monitoring and analysing provincial and territorial health insurance plans for compliance with the criteria, conditions and extra-billing and user charges provisions of the Act;
  • disseminating information on the Act and on publicly funded health care insurance programs in Canada;
  • responding to inquiries about the Act and health insurance issues received by telephone, mail and the Internet, from the public, members of Parliament, government departments, stakeholder organizations and the media;
  • developing and maintaining formal and informal contacts and partnerships with health officials in provincial and territorial governments for information sharing;
  • developing and producing the Canada Health Act Annual Report on the administration and operation of the Act;
  • conducting issue analysis and policy research to provide policy advice;
  • collaborating with provincial and territorial health department representatives through the Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee (see below);
  • working in partnership with the provinces and territories to investigate and resolve compliance issues and pursue activities that encourage compliance with the Act; and
  • informing the Minister of possible non-compliance and recommending appropriate action to resolve the issue.

Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee (IHIACC)

The Canada Health Act Division chairs the Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee and provides a secretariat for the Committee. The Committee was formed in 1991 to address issues affecting the interprovincial billing of hospital and medical services as well as issues related to registration and eligibility for health insurance coverage. It oversees the application of interprovincial health insurance agreements in accordance with the Canada Health Act.

The within-Canada portability provisions of the Act are implemented through a series of bilateral reciprocal billing agreements between provinces and territories for hospital and physician services. This generally means that a patient's health card will be accepted, in lieu of payment, when the patient receives hospital or physician services in another province or territory. The province or territory providing the service will then directly bill the patient's home province. All provinces and territories participate in reciprocal hospital agreements and all, with the exception of Quebec, participate in reciprocal medical agreements. The intent of these agreements is to ensure that Canadian residents do not face point-of-service charges for medically required hospital and physician services when they travel in Canada. However, these agreements are interprovincial/territorial and are not required by the Act.

Compliance

Health Canada's approach to resolving possible compliance issues emphasizes transparency, consultation and dialogue with provincial and territorial health ministry officials. In most instances, issues are successfully resolved through consultation and discussion based on a thorough examination of the facts. To date, most disputes and issues related to administering and interpreting the Canada Health Act have been addressed and resolved without resorting to deductions. Deductions have only been applied when all options to resolve an issue have been exhausted.

The Canada Health Act Division and regional office staff monitor the operations of provincial and territorial health care insurance plans in order to provide advice to the Minister on possible non-compliance with the Act. Sources for this information include: provincial and territorial government officials and publications; media reports; and correspondence received from the public and other non-government organizations. Staff in the Compliance and Interpretation Unit, Canada Health Act Division, assess issues of concern and complaints on a case-by-case basis. The assessment process involves compiling all facts and information related to the issue and taking appropriate action. Verifying the facts with provincial and territorial health officials may reveal issues that are not directly related to the Act, while others may pertain to the Act but are a result of misunderstanding or mis-communication, and are resolved quickly with provincial/territorial assistance, such as eligibility for health insurance coverage and portability of health services within and outside Canada.

In instances where a Canada Health Act issue has been identified and remains after initial enquiries, Division officials ask the jurisdiction in question to investigate the matter and report back. Division staff discuss the issue and its possible resolution with provincial/territorial officials. Only if the issue is not resolved to the satisfaction of the Division after following the aforementioned steps, is it brought to the attention of the federal Minister of Health.

Compliance Issues

For the most part, provincial and territorial health care insurance plans meet the criteria and conditions of the Canada Health Act. However, some issues and concerns remain. The most prominent of these relate to patient charges and queue jumping for medically necessary health services at private clinics.

The Act requires that all medically necessary physician and hospital services be covered by the provincial and territorial health insurance plans, whether the services are provided in a hospital or in a facility providing hospital care. There are concerns about queue jumping and charges to insured persons at private surgical clinics in British Columbia, for services that are covered under its provincial health insurance plan. Patient charges and queue jumping at private diagnostic clinics also remain issues in some provinces where private clinics are charging patients for medically necessary services and allowing them to jump the queue for insured health services.

History of Deductions and Refunds Under the Canada Health Act

The Canada Health Act, which came into force April 1, 1984, reaffirmed the national commitment to the original principles of the Canadian health care system, as embodied in the previous legislation, the Medical Care Act and the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act. By putting into place mandatory dollar-for-dollar penalties for extra-billing and user charges, the federal government took steps to eliminate the proliferation of direct charges for hospital and physician services, judged to be restricting the access of many Canadians to health care services due to financial considerations.

During the period 1984 to 1987, subsection 20(5) of the Act provided for deductions in respect of these charges to be refunded to the province if the charges were eliminated before April 1, 1987. By March 31, 1987, it was determined that all provinces, which had extra-billing and user charges, had taken appropriate steps to eliminate them. Accordingly, by June 1987, a total of $244,732,000 in deductions were refunded to New Brunswick ($6,886,000), Quebec ($14,032,000), Ontario ($106,656,000), Manitoba ($1,270,000), Saskatchewan ($2,107,000), Alberta ($29,032,000) and British Columbia ($84,749,000).

Following the Canada Health Act's initial three-year transition period, under which refunds to provinces and territories for deductions were possible, penalties under the Act did not reoccur until fiscal year 1994-1995. As a result of a dispute between the British Columbia Medical Association and the British Columbia government over compensation, several doctors opted out of the provincial health insurance plan and began billing their patients directly. Some of these doctors billed their patients at a rate greater than the amount the patients could recover from the provincial health insurance plan. This higher amount constituted extra-billing under the Act. Including deduction adjustments for prior years, dating back to fiscal year 1992-1993, deductions began in May 1994 and continued until extra-billing by physicians was banned when changes to British Columbia's Medicare Protection Act came into effect in September 1995. In total, $2,025,000 were deducted from British Columbia's cash contribution for extra-billing that occurred in the province between 1992-1993 and 1995-1996. These deductions were non-refundable, as were all subsequent deductions.

In January 1995, then federal Minister of Health, Diane Marleau, expressed concerns to her provincial and territorial colleagues about the development of two-tiered health care and the emergence of private clinics charging facility fees for medically necessary services. As part of her communication with the provinces and territories, Minister Marleau announced that the provinces and territories would be given more than nine months to eliminate these user charges, but that any province that did not, would face financial penalties under the Canada Health Act. Accordingly, beginning in November 1995, deductions were applied to the cash contributions to Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador for non-compliance with the Federal Policy on Private Clinics.

From November 1995 to June 1996, total deductions of $3,585,000 were made to Alberta's cash contribution in respect of facility fees charged at clinics providing surgical, ophthalmological and abortion services. On October 1, 1996, Alberta prohibited private surgical clinics from charging patients a facility fee for medically necessary services for which the physician fee was billed to the provincial health insurance plan.

Similarly, due to facility fees allowed at an abortion clinic, a total of $284,430 was deducted from Newfoundland and Labrador's cash contribution before these fees were eliminated, effective January 1, 1998.

From November 1995 to December 1998, deductions from Manitoba's Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) cash contribution amounted to $2,055,000, ending with the confirmed elimination of user charges at surgical and ophthalmology clinics, effective January 1, 1999. However, during fiscal year 2001-2002, a monthly deduction (from October 2001 to March 2002 inclusive) in the amount of $50,033 was levied against Manitoba's CHST cash contribution on the basis of a financial statement provided by the province showing that actual amounts charged with respect to user charges for insured services in fiscal years 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 were greater than the deductions levied on the basis of estimates. This brought total deductions levied against Manitoba to $2,355,201.

With the closure of a private clinic in Halifax effective November 27, 2003, Nova Scotia was deemed to be in compliance with the Federal Policy on Private Clinics. Before it closed, total deductions of $372,135 were made to Nova Scotia's CHST cash contribution for its failure to cover facility charges to patients while paying the physician fee.

In January 2003, British Columbia provided a financial statement in accordance with the Canada Health Act Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations, indicating aggregate amounts actually charged with respect to extra-billing and user charges during fiscal year 2000-2001, totalling $4,610. Accordingly, a deduction of $4,610 was made to the March 2003 CHST cash contribution.

In 2004, British Columbia did not report to Health Canada the amounts of extra-billing and user charges actually charged during fiscal year 2001-2002, in accordance with the requirements of the Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations. As a result of reports that British Columbia was investigating cases of user charges, a $126,775 deduction was taken from British Columbia's March 2004 CHST payment, based on the amount Health Canada estimated to have been charged during fiscal year 2001-2002.

Deductions were taken from the March 2005 CHT payments1 to three provinces as a result of charges to patients which occurred during 2002-2003. A deduction of $72,464 was made to British Columbia on the basis of charges reported by the province for extra-billing and patient charges at surgical clinics. A deduction of $1,100 was made to Newfoundland and Labrador as a result of patient charges for a magnetic resonance imaging scan in a hospital, and a deduction of $5,463 was made to Nova Scotia as a reconciliation of deductions that had already been made to Nova Scotia for patient charges at a private clinic.

On the basis of charges reported by the province to Health Canada, deductions were taken from the March 2006 CHT payments to British Columbia in respect of extra-billing and user charges at surgical clinics that occurred during fiscal year 2003-2004, in the amount of $29,019. A one-time positive adjustment in the amount of $8,121 was made to Nova Scotia's March 2006 CHT to reconcile amounts actually charged in respect of extra-billing and user charges at a private clinic with the penalties that had already been levied based on provincial estimates reported for fiscal 2003-2004.

In March 2007, a deduction was taken from the CHT payment to British Columbia in respect of extra-billing and user charges at surgical clinics that occurred during fiscal year 2004-2005, in the amount of $114,850, on the basis of charges reported by the province to Health Canada. A deduction was also taken from the March 2007 CHT payment to Nova Scotia in respect of extra-billing during fiscal year 2004-2005 in the amount of $9,460, on the basis of charges reported by the province to Health Canada.

As a result of charges reported by the province to Health Canada, a $42,113 deduction was taken from the March 2008 CHT payment to British Columbia for user charges that occurred during fiscal year 2005-2006. A $66,195 deduction was taken from the March 2009 CHT payment to British Columbia in respect of extra-billing and user charges that occurred during fiscal year 2006-2007, and a $73,925 deduction was taken from the March 2010 CHT payment to British Columbia in respect of extra-billing and user charges that occurred during fiscal year 2007-2008.

Since the passage of the Canada Health Act, from April 1984 to March 2010, deductions totalling $9,159,619 have been applied against provincial cash contributions in respect of the extra-billing and user charges provisions of the Act. This amount excludes deductions totalling $244,732,000 that were made between 1984 and 1987 and subsequently refunded to the provinces when extra-billing and user charges were eliminated.

1. The CHT resulted from the division of the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) into two transfers, the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and the Canada Social Transfer (CST), which became effective April 1, 2004.

Chapter 3 - Provincial and Territorial Health Care Insurance Plans in 2009-2010

The following chapter presents the 13 provincial and territorial health insurance plans that make up the Canadian publicly funded health insurance system. The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate clearly and consistently the extent to which provincial and territorial plans fulfilled the requirements of the Canada Health Act program criteria and conditions in 2009-2010.

Officials in the provincial, territorial and federal governments have collaborated to produce the detailed plan overviews contained in Chapter 3. While all provinces and territories have submitted detailed descriptive information on their health insurance plans, Quebec chose not to submit supplemental statistical information which is contained in the tables in this year's report. The information that Health Canada requested from the provincial and territorial departments of health for the report consists of two components:

  • a narrative description of the provincial or territorial health care system relating to the criteria and conditions of the Act, which can be found following this chapter; and
  • statistical information related to insured health services.

The narrative component is used to help with the monitoring and compliance of provincial and territorial health care plans with respect to the requirements of the Canada Health Act, while statistics help to identify current and future trends in the Canadian health care system.

To help provinces and territories prepare their submissions to the annual report, Health Canada provided them with the document Canada Health Act Annual Report 2009-2010: A Guide for Updating Submissions (User's Guide). This guide is designed to help provinces and territories meet the reporting requirements of Health Canada. Annual revisions to the guide are based on Health Canada's analysis of health plan descriptions from previous annual reports and its assessment of emerging issues relating to insured health services.

The process for the Canada Health Act Annual Report 2009-2010 was launched late spring 2010 with bilateral teleconferences with each jurisdiction. An updated User's Guide was also sent to the provinces and territories at that time.

Insurance Plan Descriptions

For the following chapter, provincial and territorial officials were asked to provide a narrative description of their health insurance plan. The descriptions follow the program criteria areas of the Canada Health Act in order to illustrate how the plans satisfy these criteria. For the 2009-2010 report, Section 7 on Extended Health Care Services has been removed to limit information to health services provided under the provincial/territorial health insurance plan.

This narrative format also allows each jurisdiction to indicate how it met the Canada Health Act requirement for the recognition of federal contributions that support insured and extended health care services.

Provincial and Territorial Health Care Insurance Plan Statistics

In 2003-2004, the section of the annual report containing the statistical information submitted from the provinces and territories was simplified and streamlined following feedback received from provincial and territorial officials, and based on a review of data quality and availability. The format was further streamlined for the 2006-2007 report. In the 2009-2010 report, the tables have again been streamlined to focus on total numbers of physicians and facilities. The supplemental statistical information can be found at the end of each provincial or territorial narrative, except for Quebec.

The purpose of the statistical tables is to place the administration and operation of the Canada Health Act in context and to provide a national perspective on trends in the delivery and funding of insured health services in Canada that are within the scope of the federal Act.

The statistical tables contain resource and cost data for insured hospital, physician and surgical-dental services by province and territory for five consecutive years ending on March 31, 2010. All information was provided by provincial and territorial officials.

Although efforts are made to capture data on a consistent basis, differences exist in the reporting on health care programs and services between provincial and territorial governments. Therefore, comparisons between jurisdictions are not made. Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for the quality and completeness of the data they provide.

Organization of the Information

Information in the tables is grouped according to the nine subcategories described below.

Registered Persons: Registered persons are the number of residents registered with the health care insurance plans of each province or territory.

Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory: Statistics in this sub-section relate to the provision of insured physician services to residents in each province or territory, as well as to visitors from other regions of Canada.

Insured Hospital Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory: This sub-section presents out-of-province or out-of-territory insured hospital services that are paid for by a person's home jurisdiction when they travel to other parts of Canada.

Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada: Hospital services provided out of country represent residents' hospital costs incurred while travelling outside of Canada that are paid for by their home province or territory.

Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory: Statistics in this sub-section relate to the provision of insured physician services to residents in each province or territory, as well as to visitors from other regions of Canada.

Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory: This sub-section reports on physician services that are paid by a jurisdiction to other provinces or territories for their visiting residents.

Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada: Physician services provided out of country represent residents' medical costs incurred while travelling outside of Canada that are paid by their home province or territory.

Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory: The information in this subsection describes insured surgical-dental services provided in each province or territory.

Newfoundland and Labrador

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Introduction

The majority of publicly funded health services in Newfoundland and Labrador are delivered through four regional health authorities. They focus on the full continuum of care, including health promotion and protection, public health, community services, and acute and long-term care services.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, approximately 20,000 health care providers and administrators provide health services to approximately 520,000 residents (based on 2006 census).

There were significant investments in health and wellbeing in Budget 2009-10. There was an investment of $2.7 billion, a record investment for health operations and more than 10% greater than last year. This included investments in cancer treatment and prevention, investments in health infrastructure, new construction and re-development, as well as the purchase of new medical equipment. The Medical Transportation Assistance Program was enhanced, new dialysis sites were established, and there were significant investments for Mental Health & Addictions Services. As well, significant changes were made to the provincial Long Term Care and Community Support System.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

Health care insurance plans managed by the Department of Health and Community Services include the Hospital Insurance Plan and the Medical Care Plan (MCP). Both plans are non-profit and publicly administered.

The Hospital Insurance Agreement Act is the legislation that enables the Hospital Insurance Plan. The Act gives the Minister of Health and Community Services the authority to make regulations for providing insured services on uniform terms and conditions to residents of the province under the conditions specified in the Canada Health Act and its regulations.

The Medical Care Insurance Act (1999) empowers the Minister to administer a plan of medical care insurance for residents of the province. It provides for the development of regulations to ensure that the provisions of the statute meet the requirements of the Canada Health Act as it relates to administering the MCP.

The MCP facilitates the delivery of comprehensive medical care to all residents of the province by implementing policies, procedures and systems that permit appropriate compensation to providers for rendering insured professional services. The MCP operates in accordance with the provisions of the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999) and regulations, and in compliance with the Canada Health Act.

There were no legislative amendments to the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999) or the Hospital Insurance Agreement Act in 2009-2010.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The Department is mandated with administering the Hospital Insurance and Medical Care Plans. The Department reports on these plans through the regular legislative processes, e.g., Public Accounts and the Estimates Committee of the House of Assembly.

The Department tabled its 2009-2010 Annual Report in the House of Assembly in the fall of 2010, as well as those of the four regional health authorities.

The Department's Annual Report highlights the accomplishments of 2009-2010 and provides an overview of the initiatives and programs that will continue to be developed in 2010-2011. The report is a public document and is circulated to stakeholders. It is available on the  department's website at www.health.gov.nl.ca/health.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

Each year, the province's Auditor General independently examines provincial public accounts. MCP expenditures are considered a part of the public accounts. The Auditor General has full and unrestricted access to MCP records.

The four regional health authorities are subject to financial statement audits, reviews, and compliance audits. Financial statement audits are performed by independent auditing firms that are selected by the health authorities under the terms of the Public Tendering Act. Review engagements, compliance audits and physician audits were carried out by personnel from the Department under the authority of the Newfoundland Medical Care Insurance Act (1999). Physician records and professional medical corporation records were reviewed to ensure that the records supported the services billed and that the services are insured under the MCP.

Beneficiary audits were performed by personnel from the Department under the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999). Individual providers are randomly selected on a bi-weekly basis for audit.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

The Hospital Insurance Agreement Act and the Hospital Insurance Regulations 742/96 (1996) provide for insured hospital services in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Insured hospital services are provided for in- and outpatients in 15 hospitals, 22 community health centres and 14 community clinics. Insured services include: accommodations and meals at the standard ward level; nursing services; laboratory, radiology and other diagnostic procedures; drugs, biological and related preparations; medical and surgical supplies, operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities; rehabilitative services (e.g., physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology and audiology); outpatient and emergency visits; and day surgery.

The coverage policy for insured hospital services is linked to the coverage policy for insured medical services. The Department of Health and Community Services manages the process of adding or de-listing a hospital service from the list of insured services based on direction from the Minister. There were no services added or de-listed in 2009-2010.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The enabling legislation for insured physician services is the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999) and the regulations made thereunder, which include:

  • the Medical Care Insurance Insured Services Regulations;
  • the Medical Care Insurance Beneficiaries and Inquiries Regulations; and
  • the Medical Care Insurance Physician and Fees Regulations.

In 2009-2010, there were 1,075 physicians registered in the province.

An insured service is defined as one that is: listed in section 3 of the Medical Care Insurance Insured Services Regulations; medically necessary; and/or recommended by the Department of Health and Community Services. There are no limitations on the services covered, subject to these criteria.

For purposes of the Act, the following services are covered:

  • all services properly and adequately provided by physicians to beneficiaries suffering from an illness requiring medical treatment or advice;
  • group immunizations or inoculations carried out by physicians at the request of the appropriate authority; and
  • diagnostic and therapeutic x-ray and laboratory services in facilities approved by the appropriate authority that are not provided under the Hospital Insurance Agreement Act and regulations made under the Act.

Physicians can choose not to participate in the health care insurance plan as outlined in subsection 12(1) of the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999), namely:

  • (1) Where a physician providing insured services is not a participating physician, and the physician provides an insured service to a beneficiary, the physician is not subject to this Act or the regulations relating to the provision of insured services to beneficiaries or the payment to be made for the services except that he or she shall:
    • (a) before providing the insured service, if he or she wishes to reserve the right to charge the beneficiary for the service an amount in excess of that payable by the Minister under this Act, inform the beneficiary that he or she is not a participating physician and that the physician may so charge the beneficiary; and
    • (b) provide the beneficiary to whom the physician has provided the insured service with the information required by the Minister to enable payment to be made under this Act to the beneficiary in respect of the insured service.
  • (2) Where a physician who is not a participating physician provides insured services through a professional medical corporation, the professional medical corporation is not, in relation to those services, subject to this Act or the regulations relating to the provision of insured services to beneficiaries or the payment to be made for the services and the professional medical corporation and the physician providing the insured services shall comply with subsection (1).

As of March 31, 2010, there were no physicians who had opted out of the Medical Care Plan (MCP).

Ministerial direction is required to add to or to de-insure a physician service from the list of insured services. This process is managed by the Department in consultation with various stakeholders, including the provincial medical association and the public. There were no services added or deleted during the 2009-2010 fiscal year to the list of insured physician services.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

The provincial Surgical-Dental Program is a component of the MCP. Surgical-dental treatments provided to a beneficiary and carried out in a hospital by a licensed oral surgeon or dentist are covered by MCP if the treatment is specified in the Surgical-Dental Services Schedule.

Dentists may opt out of the MCP. These dentists must advise the patient of their opted-out status, stating the fees expected, and provide the patient with a written record of services and fees charged. There is currently one opted-out dentist.

Because the Surgical-Dental Program is a component of the MCP, management of the program is linked to the MCP process regarding changes to the list of insured services.

Addition of a surgical-dental service to the list of insured services must be approved by the Department.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Hospital services not covered by MCP include: preferred accommodation at the patient's request; cosmetic surgery and other services deemed to be medically unnecessary; ambulance or other patient transportation before admission or upon discharge; private duty nursing arranged by the patient; non-medically required x-rays or other services for employment or insurance purposes; drugs (except anti-rejection and AZT drugs) and appliances issued for use after discharge from hospital; bedside telephones, radios or television sets for personal, non-teaching use; fibreglass splints; services covered by the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission or by other federal or provincial legislation; and services relating to therapeutic abortions performed in non-accredited facilities or facilities not approved by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The use of the hospital setting for any services deemed not insured by the MCP are also uninsured under the Hospital Insurance Plan. For purposes of the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999), the following is a list of non-insured physician services:

  • any advice given by a physician to a beneficiary by telephone;
  • the dispensing by a physician of medicines, drugs or medical appliances and the giving or writing of medical prescriptions;
  • the preparation by a physician of records, reports or certificates for, or on behalf of, or any communication to, or relating to, a beneficiary;
  • any services rendered by a physician to the spouse and children of the physician;
  • any service to which a beneficiary is entitled under an Act of the Parliament of Canada, an Act of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, an Act of the legislature of any province of Canada, or any law of a country or part of a country;
  • the time taken or expenses incurred in travelling to consult a beneficiary;
  • ambulance service and other forms of patient transportation;
  • acupuncture and all procedures and services related to acupuncture, excluding an initial assessment specifically related to diagnosing the illness proposed to be treated by acupuncture;
  • examinations not necessitated by illness or at the request of a third party except as specified by the appropriate authority;
  • plastic or other surgery for purely cosmetic purposes, unless medically indicated;
  • testimony in a court;
  • visits to optometrists, general practitioners and ophthalmologists solely for determining whether new or replacement glasses or contact lenses are required;
  • the fees of a dentist, oral surgeon or general practitioner for routine dental extractions performed in hospital;
  • fluoride dental treatment for children under four years of age;
  • excision of xanthelasma;
  • circumcision of newborns;
  • hypnotherapy;
  • medical examination for drivers;
  • alcohol/drug treatment outside Canada;
  • consultation required by hospital regulation;
  • therapeutic abortions performed in the province at a facility not approved by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • sex reassignment surgery, when not recommended by the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry;
  • in vitro fertilization and OSST (ovarian stimulation and sperm transfer);
  • reversal of previous sterilization procedure;
  • surgical, diagnostic or therapeutic procedures not provided in facilities other than those listed in the Schedule to the Hospitals Act or approved by the appropriate authority under paragraph 3(d); and
  • other services not within the ambit of section 3 of the Act.

The majority of diagnostic services (e.g., laboratory services and x-ray) are performed within public facilities in the province. Hospital policy concerning access ensures that third parties are not given priority access.

Medical goods and services that are implanted and associated with an insured service are provided free of charge to the patient and are consistent with national standards of practice. Patients retain the right to financially upgrade the standard medical goods or services. Standards for medical goods are developed by the hospitals providing those services in consultation with service providers.

Surgical-dental and other services not covered by the Surgical-Dental Program include the dentist's fee and the oral surgeon's or general practitioner's fees for routine dental extractions in a hospital.

The Medical Care Insurance Act (1999) provides the Lieutenant-Governor in Council with the authority to make regulations prescribing which services are not insured services for the purpose of the Act.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

There were 523,433 people registered with the program as of March 31, 2010. Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador are eligible for coverage under the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999) and the Hospital Insurance Agreement Act. The Medical Care Insurance Act (1999) defines a “resident” as a person lawfully entitled to be or to remain in Canada, who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present in the province, but does not include tourists, transients or visitors to the province.

The Medical Care Insurance Beneficiaries and Inquiries Regulations (Regulation 20/96) identify those residents eligible to receive coverage under the plans. The Medical Care Plan (MCP) has established rules to ensure that the Regulations are applied consistently and fairly in processing applications for coverage. MCP applies the standard that persons moving to Newfoundland and Labrador from another province become eligible on the first day of the third month following the month of their arrival.

Persons not eligible for coverage under the plans include: students and their dependants already covered by another province or territory; dependants of residents if covered by another province or territory; certified refugees and refugee claimants and their dependants; foreign workers with Employment Authorizations and their dependants who do not meet the established criteria; tourists, transients, visitors and their dependants; Canadian Forces and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) personnel; inmates of federal prisons; and armed forces personnel from other countries who are stationed in the province. If the status of these individuals changes, they must meet the criteria for eligibility as noted above in order to become eligible.

3.2 Other Categories of Individual

Foreign workers, international students, clergy and dependants of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) personnel are eligible for benefits. Holders of Minister's permits are also eligible, subject to MCP approval.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

Insured persons moving to Newfoundland and Labrador from other provinces or territories are entitled to coverage on the first day of the third month following the month of arrival.

Persons arriving from outside Canada to establish residence are entitled to coverage on the day of arrival. The same applies to discharged members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP, and individuals released from federal penitentiaries. For coverage to be effective, however, registration is required under the Medical Care Plan (MCP). Immediate coverage is provided to persons from outside Canada authorized to work in the province for one year or more.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador is a party to the Agreement on Eligibility and Portability regarding matters pertaining to portability of insured services in Canada.

Sections 12 and 13 of the Hospital Insurance Regulations (1996) define portability of hospital coverage during temporary absences both within and outside Canada. Portability of medical coverage during temporary absences both within and outside Canada is defined in departmental policy. The eligibility policy for insured hospital services is linked to the eligibility policy for insured physician services.

Coverage is provided to residents during temporary absences within Canada. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has entered into formal agreements (i.e., the Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreement) with other provinces and territories for the reciprocal billing of insured hospital services. In-patient costs are paid at standard rates approved by the host province or territory. In-patient, high-cost procedures and out-patient services are payable based on national rates agreed to by provincial and territorial health plans through the Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee (IHIACC).

Except for Quebec, medical services incurred in all provinces or territories are paid through the Medical Reciprocal Billing Agreement at host province or territory rates. Claims for medical services received in Quebec are submitted by the patient to the MCP for payment at host province rates.

In order to qualify for out-of-province coverage, a beneficiary must comply with the legislation and MCP rules regarding residency in Newfoundland and Labrador. A resident must reside in the province at least four consecutive months in each 12-month period to qualify as a beneficiary. Generally, the rules regarding medical and hospital care coverage during absences include the following:

  • Before leaving the province for extended periods, a resident must contact the MCP to obtain an out-of-province coverage certificate.
  • Beneficiaries leaving for vacation purposes may receive an initial out-of-province coverage certificate of up to 12 months. Upon return, beneficiaries are required to reside in the province for a minimum four consecutive months. Thereafter, certificates will only be issued for up to eight months of coverage.
  • Students leaving the province may receive a certificate, renewable each year, provided they submit proof of full-time enrolment in a recognized educational institution located outside the province.
  • Persons leaving the province for employment purposes may receive a certificate for coverage up to 12 months. Verification of employment may be required.
  • Persons must not establish residence in another province, territory or country while maintaining coverage under the Newfoundland MCP.
  • For out-of-province trips of 30 days or less, an out-of-province coverage certificate is not required, but will be issued upon request.
  • For out-of-province trips lasting more than 30 days, a certificate is required as proof of a resident's ability to pay for services while outside the province.

Failure to request out-of-province coverage or failure to abide by the residency rules may result in the resident having to pay for medical or hospital costs incurred outside the province.

Insured residents moving permanently to other parts of Canada are covered up to and including the last day of the second month following the month of departure.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The province provides coverage to residents during temporary absences outside Canada. Out-of-country insured hospital in- and out-patient services are covered for emergencies, sudden illness, and elective procedures at established rates. Hospital services are considered under the Plan when the insured services are provided by a recognized facility (licensed or approved by the appropriate authority within the state or country in which the facility is located) outside Canada. The maximum amount payable by the government's hospitalization plan for out-of-country in-patient hospital care is $350 per day, if the insured services are provided by a community or regional hospital. Where insured services are provided by a tertiary care hospital (a highly specialized facility), the approved rate is $465 per day. The approved rate for out-patient services is $62 per visit and hæmodialysis is $330 per treatment. The approved rates are paid in Canadian funds.

Physician services are covered for emergencies or sudden illness, and are also insured for elective services not available in the province or within Canada. Physician services are paid at the same rate as would be paid in Newfoundland and Labrador for the same service. If the services are not available in Newfoundland and Labrador, they are usually paid at Ontario rates, or at rates that apply in the province where they are available.

Coverage is immediately discontinued when residents move permanently to other countries.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Prior approval is not required for medically necessary insured services provided by accredited hospitals or licensed physicians in the other provinces and territories. However, physicians may seek advice on coverage from the MCP so that patients may be made aware of any financial implications.

Prior approval is mandatory in order to receive funding at host country rates if a resident of the province has to seek specialized hospital care outside the country because the insured service is not available in Canada. The referring physicians must contact the Department for prior approval. If prior approval is granted, the provincial health insurance plan will pay the costs of services necessary for the patient's care. Prior approval is not granted for out-of-country treatment or elective services if the service is available in the province or elsewhere within Canada. If the services are not available in Newfoundland and Labrador, they are usually paid at Ontario rates, or at rates that apply in the province where they are available.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

Access to insured health services in Newfoundland and Labrador is provided on uniform terms and conditions. There are no co-insurance charges for insured hospital services and there is no extra-billing by physicians in the province.

The Department of Health and Community Services works closely with educational institutions within the province to maintain an appropriate supply of health professionals. The province also works with external organizations for health professionals not trained in this province. Targeted recruitment incentives are in place to attract health professionals. Several programs have been established to provide targeted sign-on bonuses, bursaries, opportunities for upgrading, and other incentives for a wide variety of health occupations.

In 2009, a record investment of $2.6 billion was allocated for health and community services. Enhancing mental health and addictions, improving long term care and community supports, strengthening the health workforce, and investment in equipment and infrastructure are among the expenditures made to improve quality care in the province. Highlights include a new MRI and the opening of a new long term care home in Eastern.

The government continues its commitment to cancer care and treatment with the implementation of a new Provincial Colorectal Screening Program. The investment will amount to $4.3 million over the next 3 years.

As of March 31, 2010, Newfoundland and Labrador was within the national benchmarks for cardiac care, vision restoration, and cancer care within 72.5%-100% of the time, demonstrating that the four regional health authorities are providing access to these services within close proximity to the target time frames. Both the volume and demand for joint replacements in Newfoundland and Labrador has steadily increased in recent years. Subsequently, in the Eastern Region, where demand is greatest, one can anticipate longer waits for surgery. The proportion of joint replacements performed within the benchmark target ranges from 35%-100%.

The provincial primary health care (PHC) framework, Moving Forward Together: Mobilizing Primary Health Care, continues to provide direction for remodelling PHC in Newfoundland and Labrador through a population-health based approach to service delivery, and using a voluntary and incremental approach. PHC services include all the health services delivered in a geographic area (minimum population 6,000 to maximum population of 25,000) from primary prevention through to, and including, acute and episodic illness at the PHC service delivery level.

5.2 Physician Compensation

The legislation governing payments to physicians and dentists for insured services is the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999). The current methods of remuneration to compensate physicians for providing insured health services include fee-for-service, salary, contract, and sessional block funding.

Compensation agreements are negotiated between the provincial government and the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA), on behalf of all physicians. Representatives from the regional health authorities (RHAs) play a significant role in this process. The agreement with the provincial association expired in 2009 and negotiations were still ongoing as of March 31, 2010.

5.3 Payments to Hospitals

The Department is responsible for funding RHAs for ongoing operations and capital acquisitions. Funding for insured services is provided to the RHAs as an annual global budget. Payments are made in accordance with the Hospital Insurance Agreement Act (1990) and the Hospitals Act. As part of their accountability to the government, the health authorities are required to meet the Department's annual reporting requirements, which include audited financial statements and other financial and statistical information. The global budgeting process devolves the budget allocation authority, responsibility, and accountability to all appointed boards in the discharge of their mandates.

Throughout the fiscal year, the RHAs forwarded additional funding requests to the Department for any changes in program areas or increased workload volume. These requests were reviewed and, when approved by the Department, funded at the end of each fiscal year. Any adjustments to the annual funding level, such as for additional approved positions or program changes, were funded based on the implementation date of such increases and the cash flow requirements.

RHAs are continually facing challenges in addressing increased demands due to inflation and increased workload. Higher patient expectations and new technology are creating new demands for time, resources and funding. RHAs continue to work with the Department to address these issues and provide effective, efficient and quality health services.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

Funding provided by the federal government through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and the Canada Social Transfer (CST) has been recognized and reported by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in the annual provincial budget, through press releases, government websites and various other documents. For fiscal year 2009-2010, these documents included:

  • the 2009-2010 Public Accounts;
  • the Estimates 2009-2010; and
  • the Budget Speech 2009.

The Public Accounts and Estimates, tabled by the Government in the House of Assembly, are publicly available to Newfoundland and Labrador residents and have been shared with Health Canada for information purposes.

Registered Persons
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 545,160 545,629 506,530 1 514,470 523,433
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
2. Number (#). 36 36 50 2 51 51
3. Payments for insured health services ($). 740,235,437 743,680,905 798,018,159 880,628,613 964,078,687
Private For-Profit Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#). 1 1 1 1 1
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($). 285,475 288,800 307,825 389,375 432,500
Insured Hospital Services Provided to residents in another province or territory
2005-2006 3
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 1,850 1,736 1,910 1,732 1,595
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 15,355,713 15,157,341 16,509,144 15,695,411 16,928,930
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 30,762 34,349 34,159 29,758 25,770
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 5,385,716 6,755,412 6,817,250 7,680,172 7,325,977
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 54 60 73 90 94
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 112,039 92,683 496,719 368,959 123,890
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 261 345 404 400 317
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 24,265 934,2954 651,841 204,973 272,567
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
14. Number of participating physicians (#).5 971 985 989 1,037 1,075
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#). 0 0 0 0 0
16. Number of non-participating physicians (#). 0 0 0 0 0
17. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods ($). not available not available not available not available not available
18. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service ($). 180,263,000 182,730,000 189,169,000 199,127,000 211,145,000
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
19. Number of services (#). 136,000 139,000 168,000 136,000 147,000
20. Total payments ($). 5,197,000 6,290,000 6,320,000 6,161,000 6,991,000
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 2,300 2,100 2,300 2,900 3,100
22. Total payments ($). 135,000 130,000 300,000 240,000 157,000
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 26 27 25 25 31
24. Number of services provided (#). 2,633 2,044 885 2,995 290
25. Total payments ($). 313,000 123,000 73,000 331,000 28,000

1. Newfoundland and Labrador completed the re-registration project that commenced in 2006. Thus, the 2007-2008 number represents re-registered residents only.
2. Nursing stations/community clinics not included in previous reports.
3. Lines 6-9 changed to reflect date processing adjustments.
4. Increase attributable to patients who were granted prior approval to receive insured services outside the country.
5. Excludes inactive physicians.Total salaried and fee-for-service physicians.

Prince Edward Island

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Introduction

The Ministry of Health and Wellness is a system of integrated services whose aim is to protect, maintain and improve the health and well-being of Prince Edward Islanders.

Health services in Prince Edward Island are currently delivered through a single management model centralized under the Department of Health and Wellness.

The Ministry is responsible for providing a variety of health services to Islanders to promote and help foster their optimal health, including public health services, primary care, acute care, community hospitals and continuing care services.

The Department is managed by a Health Management Committee chaired by the Deputy Minister, and composed of senior directors whose responsibility it is to direct the overall departmental management and dayto- day operations.

During 2009-2010, a health system review was completed, and recommendations were made to ensure the long-term sustainability of health services in Prince Edward Island. A key component of this work was a new Health Services Act (2009) receiving royal assent which, once proclaimed, will create a new health authority called Health PEI to take over responsibility for the delivery of health services in Prince Edward Island. This transition is expected to take place in 2010.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

The Hospital Care Insurance Plan, under the authority of the Minister of Health and Wellness, is the vehicle for delivering hospital care insurance in Prince Edward Island. The enabling legislation is the Hospital and Diagnostic Services Insurance Act (1988), which insures services as defined under section 2 of the Canada Health Act.

The Department of Health and Wellness is responsible for service delivery and operates hospitals, health centres, manors and mental health facilities. The Public Service Commission of PEI hires physicians, nurses and other health related workers.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

An annual report is submitted by the Department to the Minister responsible who tables it in the Legislative Assembly. The report provides information on the operating principles of the Department and its legislative responsibilities, as well as an overview and description of the operations of the departmental divisions and statistical highlights for the year.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The provincial Auditor General conducts annual audits of the public accounts of the province of Prince Edward Island. The public accounts of the province include the financial activities, revenues and expenditures of the Department of Health and Wellness. Public Accounts Volume I Consolidated Financial Statements was published in November of 2009. Public Accounts Volume II Operating Fund Financial Statements, Details of Revenues and Expenditures, Financial Statements of Agencies and Crown Corporations was published in February of 2010.

The provincial Auditor General, through the Audit Act, has the discretionary authority to conduct further audit reviews on a comprehensive or program specific basis.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Insured hospital services are provided under the Hospital and Diagnostic Services Insurance Act (1988). The accompanying Regulations (1996) define the insured in- and out-patient hospital services available at no charge to a person who is eligible. Insured hospital services include: necessary nursing services; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures; accommodations and meals at a standard ward rate; formulary drugs, biologicals and related preparations prescribed by an attending physician and administered in hospital; operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities; routine surgical supplies; and radiotherapy and physiotherapy services performed in hospital.

The process to add a new hospital service to the list of insured services involves extensive consultation and negotiation between the Department and key stakeholders. The process involves the development of a business plan which, when approved by the Minister, would be taken to Treasury Board for funding approval. Executive Council (Cabinet) has the final authority in adding new services.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The enabling legislation that provides for insured physician services is the Health Services Payment Act (1988).

Insured physician services are provided by medical practitioners licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The total number of practitioners, including locums, who billed the Health Care Insurance Plan as of March 31, 2010, was 404.

Under section 10 of the Health Services Payment Act, a physician or practitioner who is not a participant in the Insurance Plan is not eligible to bill the Plan for services rendered. When a non-participating physician provides a medically required service, section 10(2) requires that physicians advise patients that they are not participating physicians or practitioners and provide the patient with sufficient information to enable recovery of the cost of services from the Minister of Health and Wellness.

Under section 10.1 of the Health Services Payment Act, a participating physician or practitioner may determine, subject to and in accordance with the regulations and in respect of a particular patient or a particular basic health service, to collect fees outside the Plan or selectively opt out of the Plan. Before the service is rendered, patients must be informed that they will be billed directly for the service. Where practitioners have made that determination, they are required to inform the Minister thereof and the total charge is made to the patient for the service rendered.

As of March 31, 2010, no physicians had opted out of the Health Care Insurance Plan.

Any basic health services rendered by physicians that are medically required are covered by the Health Care Insurance Plan. These include most physicians' services in the office, at the hospital or in the patient's home; medically necessary surgical services, including the services of anaesthetists and surgical assistants where necessary; obstetrical services, including pre- and post-natal care, newborn care or any complications of pregnancy such as miscarriage or caesarean section; certain oral surgery procedures performed by an oral surgeon when it is medically required, with prior approval that they be performed in a hospital; sterilization procedures, both female and male; treatment of fractures and dislocations; and certain insured specialist services, when properly referred by an attending physician.

The process to add a physician service to the list of insured services involves negotiation between the Department and the Medical Society. The process involves development of a business plan which, when approved by the Minister, would be taken to Treasury Board for funding approval. Cabinet has the final authority in adding new services.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Dental services are not insured in the Health Care Insurance Plan. Only oral maxillofacial surgeons are paid through the Plan. There are currently two surgeons in that category. Surgical-dental procedures included as basic health services in the Tariff of Fees are covered only when the patient's medical condition requires that they be done in hospital or in an office with prior approval as confirmed by the attending physician.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Provincial hospital services not covered by the Hospital Services Plan include:

  • services that persons are eligible for under other provincial or federal legislation;
  • mileage or travel, unless approved by the Department;
  • advice or prescriptions by telephone, except anticoagulant therapy supervision;
  • telephone consultation except by internists and orthopedic surgeons, provided the patient was not seen by that internist or orthopedic surgeon within 3 days of the telephone consult;
  • examinations required in connection with employment, insurance, education, etc.;
  • group examinations, immunizations or inoculations, unless prior approval is received from the Department;
  • preparation of records, reports, certificates or communications, except a certificate of committal to a psychiatric, drug or alcoholism facility;
  • testimony in court;
  • travel clinic and expenses;
  • surgery for cosmetic purposes unless medically required;
  • dental services other than those procedures included as basic health services;
  • dressings, drugs, vaccines, biologicals and related materials;
  • eyeglasses and special appliances;
  • chiropractic, podiatry, optometry, chiropody, osteopathy, naturopathy, and similar treatments;
  • physiotherapy, psychology, audiology, and acupuncture except when provided in hospital;
  • reversal of sterilization procedures;
  • in vitro fertilization;
  • services performed by another person when the supervising physician is not present or not available;
  • services rendered by a physician to members of the physician's own household, unless approval is obtained from the Department; and
  • any other services that the Department may, upon the recommendation of the negotiation process between the Department and the Medical Society, declare non-insured.

Provincial hospital services not covered by the Hospital Services Plan include private or special duty nursing at the patient's or family's request; preferred accommodation at the patient's request; hospital services rendered in connection with surgery purely for cosmetic reasons; personal conveniences, such as telephones and televisions; drugs, biologicals and prosthetic and orthotic appliances for use after discharge from hospital; and dental extractions, except in cases where the patient must be admitted to hospital for medical reasons with prior approval of the Department.

The process to de-insure services by the Health Care Insurance Plan is done in collaboration with the Medical Society and the Department. No services were de-insured during the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

All Island residents have equal access to services. Third parties such as private insurers or the Workers' Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island do not receive priority access to services through additional payment.

Prince Edward Island has no formal process to monitor compliance; however, feedback from physicians, hospital administrators, medical professionals and staff allows the Department to monitor usage and service concerns.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

The Health Services Payment Act and regulations, section 3, define eligibility for the health care insurance plans. The plans are designed to provide coverage for eligible Prince Edward Island residents. A resident is anyone legally entitled to remain in Canada and who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present on an annual basis for at least six months plus a day, in Prince Edward Island.

All new residents must register with the Department in order to become eligible. Persons who establish permanent residence in Prince Edward Island from elsewhere in Canada will become eligible for insured hospital and medical services on the first day of the third month following the month of arrival.

Residents who are ineligible for coverage under the Health Care Insurance Plan in Prince Edward Island are members of the Canadian Forces, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), inmates of federal penitentiaries and those eligible for certain services under other government programs, such as Workers' Compensation or the Department of Veterans Affairs' programs.

Ineligible residents may become eligible in certain circumstances. Members of the Canadian Forces or RCMP become eligible on discharge or completion of rehabilitative leave. Penitentiary inmates become eligible upon release. In such cases, the province where the individual in question was stationed at the time of discharge or release, or release from rehabilitative leave, would provide initial coverage during the customary waiting period of up to three months. Parolees from penitentiaries will be treated in the same manner as discharged prisoners.

Foreign students, tourists, transients or visitors to Prince Edward Island do not qualify as residents of the province and are, therefore, not eligible for hospital and medical insurance benefits.

New or returning residents must apply for health coverage by completing a registration application from the Department. The application is reviewed to ensure that all necessary information is provided. A health card is issued and sent to the resident within two weeks.

Renewal of coverage takes place every five years and residents are notified by mail six weeks before renewal.

The number of residents registered with the health care insurance plan in Prince Edward Island as of March 31, 2010 was 143,238.

3.2 Other Categories of Individual

Foreign students, temporary workers, refugees and Minister's Permit holders are not eligible for health and medical coverage.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

Insured persons who move to Prince Edward Island are eligible for health insurance on the first day of the third month following the month of arrival in the province.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

Persons absent each year for winter vacations and similar situations involving regular absences must reside in Prince Edward Island for at least six months plus a day each year in order to be eligible for sudden illness and emergency services while absent from the province, as allowed under section 5.(1)(e) of the Health Services Payment Act.

The term "temporarily absent" is defined as a period of absence from the province for up to 182 days in a 12 month period, where the absence is for the purpose of a vacation, a visit or a business engagement. Persons leaving the province under the above circumstances must notify the Registration Department before leaving.

Prince Edward Island participates in the Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreement and the Medical Reciprocal Billing Agreement along with other jurisdictions across Canada.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The Health Services Payment Act is the enabling legislation that defines portability of health insurance during temporary absences outside Canada, as allowed under section 5.(1)(e).

Insured residents may be temporarily out of the country for a 12 month period one time only. Students attending a recognized learning institution in another country must provide proof of enrolment from the educational institution on an annual basis. Students must notify the Registration Department upon returning from outside the country.

For Prince Edward Island residents leaving the country for work purposes for longer than one year, coverage ends the day the person leaves.

For Island residents travelling outside Canada, coverage for emergency or sudden illness will be provided at Prince Edward Island rates only, in Canadian currency. Residents are responsible for paying the difference between the full amount charged and the amount paid by the Department.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Prior approval is required from the Department before receiving non-emergency, out-of-province medical or hospital services. Island residents seeking such required services may apply for prior approval through a Prince Edward Island physician. Full coverage may be provided for (Prince Edward Island insured) non-emergency or elective services, provided the physician completes an application to the Department. Prior approval is required from the Medical Director of the Department to receive out-of country hospital or medical services not available in Canada.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

Both of Prince Edward Island's hospital and medical services insurance plans provide services on uniform terms and conditions on a basis that does not impede or preclude reasonable access to those services by insured persons.

Prince Edward Island has a publicly administered and funded health system that guarantees universal access to medically necessary hospital and physician services as required by the Canada Health Act.

This past year saw the initiation of a Teleradiology program to help reduce wait times for diagnostic imaging in Prince Edward Island. New digital mammography units were also added which provide faster, more efficient, breast imaging services. In addition, echocardiogram services were expanded during this reporting period.

Prince Edward Island is continuing to invest to reduce wait times for key health services. A second linear accelerator is now fully operational at the PEI Cancer Treatment Centre, which will enable more patients to be treated faster and more accurately. The PEI Breast Screening Program also saw the installation of three new digital mammography units in order to help reduce wait periods by several months for these critical services.

The major multi-year redevelopment project at our provincial referral hospital reached several significant milestones this past year. The Laundry Services and Supply, Processing and Distribution departments were relocated into new and expanded locations below the new Emergency Department that will be opened in the near future. Also, the expansion of the PEI Cancer Treatment Centre was completed to accommodate the installation of a second linear accelerator. Site preparation work also began for the Ambulatory Care portion of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital redevelopment.

Over the past twelve months, several construction, renovation and expansion projects were completed at community hospitals, and health centres. This included renovations to the Emergency Department at the Kings County Memorial Hospital, the construction of new health centres in Tyne Valley and O'Leary, and the expansion of the Margaret Stewart Ellis Wing of the Community Hospital in O'Leary.

The PEI Family Medicine Residency Program has provided ongoing training opportunities to medical school graduates who are training as family physicians. The intent is to better integrate our medical students so that they will want to stay and practice in the province. Five family medicine residents are currently participating in their two year training program on the Island.

As PEI is primarily a rural province where a large segment of the population resides outside the main service centres, local access to health services, including acute services delivered through community hospitals and health centres, is important to small communities. Prince Edward Island continues to expand health infrastructure necessary to support health service delivery in rural communities.

5.2 Physician Compensation

A collective bargaining process is used to negotiate physician compensation. Bargaining teams are appointed by both physicians and the government to represent their interests in the process. The three year Physician Master Agreement between the PEI Medical Society, on behalf of Island physicians, and the provincial government was effective April 1, 2007 to March 31, 2010. It will remain in effect until a new agreement is reached.

The legislation governing payments to physicians and dentists for insured services is the Health Services Payment Act.

Many physicians continue to work on a fee-for-service basis. However, alternate payment plans have been developed and some physicians receive salary, contract and sessional payments. Alternate payment modalities are growing and seem to be the preference for new graduates. Currently, over 65 percent of PEI physicians are compensated under an alternate payment method (non-fee-for-service) as their primary means of remuneration.

5.3 Payments to Hospitals

Payments (advances) to provincial hospitals and community hospitals for hospital services are approved for disbursement by the Department in line with cash requirements and are subject to approved budget levels.

The usual funding method includes using a global budget adjusted annually to take into consideration increased costs related to such items as labour agreements, drugs, medical supplies and facility operations.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

The Government of Prince Edward Island strives to recognize the federal contributions provided through the Canada Health Transfer whenever appropriate. Over the past year, this has included reference in public documents such as the Province of PEI 2009-2010 Annual Budget and in the 2009-2010 Public Accounts, which both were tabled in the Legislative Assembly and are publicly available to Prince Edward Island residents.

It is also the intent of the Department of Health and Wellness to recognize this important contribution in its 2009-2010 Annual Report.

Registered Persons
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 144,159 145,047 146,518 142,305 143,238
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
2. Number (#). 7 7 7 7 7
3. Payments for insured health services ($). 129,976,9001 137,365,1001 143,254,2001 147,295,5001 160,551,0001
Private For-Profit Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#). not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($). not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
Insured Hospital Services Provided to residents in another province or territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 2,187 2,003 2,253 2,591 2,692
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 16,463,548 17,510,188 19,448,899 20,582,454 26,099,326
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 15,547 15,675 17,867 18,488 17,147
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 3,225,803 3,345,624 4,292,114 5,290,630 5,385,508
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 25 35 28 34 not applicable
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 69,391 105,268 49,616 113,901 157,547
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 91 96 137 122 127
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 17,084 16,179 27,533 33,919 65,114
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
14. Number of participating physicians (#).2 211 228 221 256 240
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#). 0 0 0 0 0
16. Number of non-participating physicians (#). not applicable 0 0 0 0
17. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods ($). 40,027,386 56,063,6443 61,974,5813 61,445,7803 72,874,9513
18. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service ($). 35,226,215 34,543,095 34,973,359 41,123,808 45,959,450
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
19. Number of services (#). 54,269 73,399 77,992 77,830 79,139
20. Total payments ($). 4,674,004 5,221,586 6,035,626 5,998,751 6,386,325
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 534 746 562 1,053 786
22. Total payments ($). 15,844 27,899 23,979 52,601 39,137
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 3 3 3 3 3
24. Number of services provided (#). 303 442 364 424 451
25. Total payments ($). 115,918 106,708 95,749 149,794 171,901

1. Figures are budget estimates, not actuals.
2. Total does not include locums or visiting specialists.
3. Reflects payments made through claim submissions and salary allocations.

Nova Scotia

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Introduction

The Nova Scotia Department of Health's mission is, "working together to empower individuals, families, partners and communities to promote, improve, and maintain the health of Nova Scotians through a proactive and sustainable health care system." This requires that health care services in Nova Scotia are integrated, community-based and sustainable.

The Health Authorities Act, Chapter 6 of the Acts of 2000, established the province's nine district health authorities (DHAs) and their community-based supports, community health boards (CHBs). DHAs are responsible for governing, planning, managing, delivering and monitoring health services within each district, and for providing planning support to the CHBs. Services delivered by the DHAs include acute and tertiary care, mental health, and addictions.

The province's thirty-seven CHBs develop community health plans with primary health care and health promotion as their foundation. DHAs draw two thirds of their board nominations from CHBs. Their community health plans are part of the DHAs' annual business planning process. In addition to the nine DHAs, the IWK Health Centre continues to have separate board, administrative and service delivery structures.

The Department of Health is responsible for setting the strategic direction and standards for health services; ensuring availability of quality health care; monitoring, evaluating and reporting on performance and outcomes; and funding health services. The Department of Health is directly responsible for physician and pharmaceutical services, emergency health, continuing care, and many other insured and publicly funded health programs and services.

Nova Scotia faces a number of challenges in the delivery of health care services. Nova Scotia's population is aging. Approximately 16.0% of the Nova Scotian population is sixty-five or over and this figure is expected to reach 24.3% by 2026. In response to the needs of our aging population, Nova Scotia has expanded its basket of publicly insured services to include home care, long-term care, and enhanced pharmaceutical coverage. Nova Scotia also has much higher than average rates of chronic diseases such as cancers and diabetes which contribute to the rising costs of health care delivery in Nova Scotia.

Despite these ever increasing pressures and challenges, Nova Scotia continues to be committed to the delivery of medically necessary services consistent with the principles of the Canada Health Act.

Additional information related to health care in Nova Scotia may be obtained from the Department of Health website at www.gov.ns.ca/health.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

Two plans cover insured health services in Nova Scotia: the Hospital Services Insurance (HSI) and the Medical Services Insurance (MSI) Plan. The Department of Health administers the HSI Plan, which operates under the Health Services and Insurance Act, Chapter 197, Revised Statutes of Nova Scotia, 1989: sections 3(1), 5, 6, 10, 15, 16, 17(1), 18 and 35.

The MSI is administered and operated by an authority consisting of the Department of Health and Medavie Blue Cross (formerly called Atlantic Blue Cross), under the above-mentioned Act (sections 8, 13, 17(2), 23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 and 35).

Section 8 of the Act gives the Minister of Health, with approval of the Governor in Council, the power to enter into agreements and vary, amend or terminate the same with such person or persons as the Minister deems necessary to establish, implement and carry out the MSI Plan.

The Department of Health and Medavie Blue Cross entered into a service level agreement, effective August 1, 2005. Under the agreement, Medavie is responsible for operating and administering programs contained under MSI, Pharmacare Programs and Health Card Registration Services.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

Medavie is obliged to provide reports to the Department under various Statements of Requirements for each Business Service Description as listed in the contract.

Medavie is audited every year on various areas of reporting. Every year there is a compliance audit.

Section 17(1)(i) of the Health Services and Insurance Act, and sections 11(1) and 12(1) of the Hospital Insurance Regulations, under this Act, set out the terms for reporting by hospitals and hospital boards to the Minister of Health.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The Auditor General audits all expenditures of the Department of Health. The Department of Health has a service level agreement in place with Medavie Blue Cross. An annual audit is performed on this agreement, including Medicare, Pharmacare and Health Card Registration, which has been recommended by the Auditor General's office.

All long-term care facilities, home care and home support agencies are required to provide the Department with annual audited financial statements.

Under section 34(5) of the Health Authorities Act, every hospital board is required to submit to the Minister of Health, by July 1st each year, an audited financial statement for the preceding fiscal year.

1.4 Designated Agency

Medavie Blue Cross Care administers and has the authority to receive monies to pay physician accounts under a service level agreement with the Department of Health. Medavie Blue Cross Care receives written authorization from the Department for the physicians to whom it may make payments. The rates of pay and specific amounts depend on the physician contract negotiated between Doctors Nova Scotia and the Department of Health.

All Medavie Blue Cross Care system development for MSI and Pharmacare is controlled through a joint committee. All MSI and Pharmacare transactions are subject to a review by the Office of the Auditor General.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Nine district health authorities and the IWK Health Centre (Women and Children's Tertiary Care Hospital) deliver insured hospital services to both in- and outpatients in Nova Scotia.

Accreditation is not mandatory, but all facilities are accredited at a facility or district level. The enabling legislation that provides for insured hospital services in Nova Scotia is the Health Services and Insurance Act, Chapter 197, Revised Statutes of Nova Scotia, 1989: sections 3(1), 5, 6, 10, 15, 16, 17(1), 18 and 35, passed by the Legislature in 1958. Hospital Insurance Regulations were made pursuant to the Health Services and Insurance Act.

In-patient services include:

  • accommodation and meals at the standard ward level;
  • necessary nursing services;
  • laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures;
  • drugs, biologicals and related preparations, when administered in a hospital;
  • routine surgical supplies;
  • use of operating room(s), case room(s) and anaesthetic services;
  • use of radiotherapy and physiotherapy services for inpatients, where available; and
  • blood or therapeutic blood fractions.

Out-patient services include:

  • laboratory and radiological examinations;
  • diagnostic procedures involving the use of radio-pharmaceuticals;
  • electroencephalographic examinations;
  • use of occupational and physiotherapy facilities, where available;
  • necessary nursing services;
  • drugs, biologicals and related preparations;
  • blood or therapeutic blood fractions;
  • hospital services in connection with most minor medical and surgical procedures;
  • day-patient diabetic care;
  • services provided by the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Clinics, where available;
  • ultrasonic diagnostic procedures;
  • home parenteral nutrition, where available; and
  • haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, where available.

In order to add a new hospital service to the list of insured hospital services, district health authorities are required to submit a New and/or Expanded Program Proposal1 to the Department of Health. This process is carried out annually by request through the business planning process. A Department-developed process format is forwarded to the districts for their guidance. A Department working group reviews and prioritizes all requests received. Based on available funding, a number of top priorities may be approved by the Minister of Health.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The legislation covering the provision of insured physician services in Nova Scotia is the Health Services and Insurance Act, sections 3(2), 5, 8, 13, 13A, 17(2), 22, 27-31, 35 and the Medical Services Insurance Regulations.

As of March 31, 2010, 2,401 physicians were paid through the Medical Services Insurance (MSI) Plan.

Physicians retain the ability to opt into or out of the MSI Plan. In order to opt out, a physician notifies MSI, relinquishing his or her billing number. MSI reimburses patients who pay the physician directly due to opting out. As of March 31, 2010, no physicians had opted out.

Insured services are those medically necessary to diagnose, treat, rehabilitate or otherwise alter a disease pattern. There are no limitations on medically necessary insured services.

Services were added to the list of insured physician services in 2009-2010. A complete list can be obtained from the Nova Scotia Department of Health. On an as needed basis, new specific fee codes are approved that represent enhancements, new technologies or new ways of delivering a service.

The addition of new fee codes to the list of insured physician services is accomplished through a collaborative Department of Health/District Health Authority/ Doctors Nova Scotia (DOH/DHA/DNS) committee structure. Physicians wishing to have a new fee code added to the MSI Manual submit a formal application to the Fee Schedule Advisory Committee (FSAC) for review. Each request is thoroughly researched. FSAC then makes a recommendation to the Master Agreement Steering Group (MASG) which either approves or denies the proposal. The MASG Committee is comprised of equal representation from Doctors Nova Scotia and the Department of Health. If the fee is approved, Medavie Blue Cross is directed to add the new fee to the schedule of insured services payable by the MSI Plan.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

To provide insured surgical-dental services under the Health Services and Insurance Act, dentists must be registered members of the Nova Scotia Dental Association and must also be certified competent in the practice of dental surgery. The Health Services and Insurance Act is so written that a dentist may choose not to participate in the MSI Plan. To participate, a dentist must register with MSI. A participating dentist who wishes to reverse election to participate must advise MSI in writing and is then no longer eligible to submit claims to MSI. As of March 31, 2010, no dentists had opted out.

Insured surgical-dental services must be provided in a health care facility. Insured services are detailed in the Department of Health MSI Dentist Manual (Dental Surgical Services Program) and are reviewed annually through the Acute & Tertiary Care Branch as required by Insured Dental Services Tariff Regulations. Services under this program are insured when the conditions of the patient are such that it is medically necessary for the procedure to be done in a hospital and the procedure is of a surgical nature. Generally included as insured surgical-dental services are orthognathic surgery, surgical removal of impacted teeth, and oral and maxillary facial surgery. Requests for an addition to the list of surgical-dental services are accomplished by first approaching the Dental Association of Nova Scotia and having them put forward a proposal to the Department of Health for the addition of a new procedure. The Department of Health, in consultation with specific experts in the field, renders the decision as to whether or not the new procedure becomes an insured service.

"Other extraction services" (routine extractions) at public expense were approved for the following groups of patients: 1) cardiac patients, 2) transplant patients, 3) immunocompromised patients, and 4) radiation patients. Routine extractions for these patients will be provided at public expense when and only when patients are undergoing active treatment in a hospital setting and the attendant medical procedure must require the removal of teeth that would otherwise be considered routine extractions and not paid at public expense. It is vital to the claims approval process that the dental treatment plans include the name of the medical specialist providing the care and that he/she has indicated in writing in the patient's medical treatment plan that the routine dental extractions are required prior to performing the medical treatment/procedure

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Uninsured hospital services include:

  • preferred accommodation at the patient's request;
  • telephones;
  • televisions;
  • drugs and biologicals ordered after discharge from hospital;
  • cosmetic surgery;
  • reversal of sterilization procedures;
  • surgery for sex reassignment;
  • in-vitro fertilization;
  • procedures performed as part of clinical research trials;
  • services such as gastric bypass for morbid obesity, breast reduction/augmentation and newborn circumcision;2 and
  • services not deemed medically necessary that are required by third parties, such as insurance companies.

Uninsured physician services include:

  • services eligible for coverage under the Workers' Compensation Act or under any other federal or provincial legislation;
  • mileage, travel or detention time;
  • telephone advice or telephone renewal of prescriptions;
  • examinations required by third parties;
  • group immunizations or inoculations unless approved by the Department;
  • preparation of certificates or reports;
  • testimony in court;
  • services in connection with an electrocardiogram, electromyogram or electroencephalogram, unless the physician is a specialist in the appropriate specialty;
  • cosmetic surgery;
  • acupuncture;
  • reversal of sterilization; and
  • in-vitro fertilization.

Major third party agencies purchasing medically necessary health services in Nova Scotia include Workers' Compensation, Department of National Defence, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

All residents of the province are entitled to services covered under the Health Services and Insurance Act. If enhanced goods and services, such as foldable intraocular lens or fiberglass casts, are offered as an alternative, the specialist/physician is responsible to ensure that the patient is aware of their responsibility for the additional cost. Patients are not denied service based on their inability to pay. The province provides alternatives to any of the enhanced goods and services.

The Department of Health also carefully reviews all patient complaints or public concerns that may indicate that the general principles of insured services are not being followed.

The de-insurance of insured physician services is accomplished through a negotiation process between the Doctors Nova Scotia and the Physician Services Branch of the Department of Health, who jointly evaluate a procedure or process to determine whether the services should remain an insured benefit. If a process or procedure is deemed not to be medically necessary, it is removed from the physician fee schedule and will no longer be reimbursed to physicians as an insured service. Once a service has been de-insured, all procedures and testing relating to the provision of that service also become de-insured. The same process applies to dental and hospital services. The last time there was any significant de-insurance of services was in 1997.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Eligibility for insured health care services in Nova Scotia is outlined under section 2 of the Hospital Insurance Regulations made pursuant to section 17 of the Health Services and Insurance Act. All residents of Nova Scotia are eligible. A resident is defined as anyone who is legally entitled to stay in Canada and who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present in Nova Scotia.

A person is considered to be "ordinarily present" in Nova Scotia if the person:

  • makes his or her permanent home in Nova Scotia;
  • is physically present in Nova Scotia for at least 183 days in any calendar year (short term absences under 30 days, within Canada, are not monitored); and
  • is a Canadian citizen or "Permanent Resident" as defined by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Persons moving to Nova Scotia from another Canadian province will normally be eligible for Medical Services Insurance (MSI) on the first day of the third month following the month of their arrival. Persons moving permanently to Nova Scotia from another country are eligible on the date of their arrival in the province, provided they are Canadian citizens or hold "Permanent Resident" status as defined by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Members of the RCMP, members of the Canadian Forces, and federal inmates are ineligible for MSI coverage. When their status changes, they immediately become eligible for provincial Medicare.

There were no changes to eligibility requirements in 2009-2010.

In 2009-2010, the total number of residents registered with the health insurance plan was 981,922.

3.2 Other Categories of Individual

The following persons may also be eligible for insured health care services in Nova Scotia once they meet the specific eligibility criteria for their situations:

Immigrants: Persons moving from another country to live permanently in Nova Scotia are eligible for health care on the date of arrival. They must possess a landed immigrant document. These individuals, formerly called "landed immigrants," are now referred to as "Permanent Residents."

Convention Refugees and Non-Canadians married to Canadian Citizens/Permanent Residents (copy of Marriage Certificate required), who possess any other document and who have applied within Canada for Permanent Resident status, will be eligible on the date of application for Permanent Resident status, provided they possess a letter or documentation from Citizenship and Immigration Canada stating that they have applied for Permanent Residence.

Non-Canadians married to Canadian Citizens/ Permanent Residents (copy of Marriage Certificate required), who possess any other document and who have applied outside Canada for Permanent Resident status, will be eligible on the date of arrival, provided they possess a letter or documentation from Citizenship and Immigration Canada stating that they have applied for Permanent Residence.

In 2009-2010, there were 29,443 Permanent Residents registered with the health care insurance plan.

Work Permits: Persons moving to Nova Scotia from outside the country who possess a work permit can apply for coverage on the date of arrival in Nova Scotia, providing they will be remaining in Nova Scotia for at least one full year. A declaration must be signed to confirm that the worker will not be outside Nova Scotia for more than 31 consecutive days, except in the course of employment. MSI coverage is extended for a maximum of 12 months at a time. Each year, a copy of their renewed immigration document must be presented and a declaration signed. Dependants of such persons, who are legally entitled to remain in Canada, are granted coverage on the same basis.

Once coverage has terminated, the person is to be treated as never having qualified for health services coverage as herein provided and must comply with the above requirements before coverage will be extended to him/her or their dependents.

In 2009-2010, there were 2,610 individuals with Employment Authorizations covered under the health care insurance plan.

Study Permits: Persons moving to Nova Scotia from another country and who possess a Study Permit will be eligible for MSI on the first day of the thirteenth month following the month of their arrival, provided they have not been absent from Nova Scotia for more than 31 consecutive days, except in the course of their studies. MSI coverage is extended for a maximum of 12 months at a time and only for services received within Nova Scotia. Each year, a copy of their renewed immigration document must be presented and a declaration signed. Dependants of such persons, who are legally entitled to remain in Canada, will be granted coverage on the same basis once the student has gained entitlement.

In 2009-2010, there were 1,173 individuals with Student Authorizations covered under the health care insurance plan.

Refugees: Refugees are eligible for MSI if they possess either a work permit or study permit.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

Persons moving to Nova Scotia from another Canadian province or territory will normally be eligible for Medical Services Insurance (MSI) on the first day of the third month following the month of their arrival.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

The Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability is followed in all matters pertaining to the portability of insured services.

Generally, the Nova Scotia MSI Plan provides coverage for residents of Nova Scotia who move to other provinces or territories for a period of three months, per the Eligibility and Portability Agreement. Students and their dependants, who are temporarily absent from Nova Scotia and in full-time attendance at an educational institution, may remain eligible for MSI on a yearly basis. To qualify for MSI, the student must provide to MSI a letter directly from the educational institution which states that they are registered as full-time students. MSI coverage will be extended on a yearly basis pending receipt of this letter.

Workers who leave Nova Scotia to seek employment elsewhere will still be covered by MSI for up to 12 months, provided they do not establish residence in another province, territory or country. Services provided to Nova Scotia residents in other provinces or territories are covered by reciprocal agreements. Nova Scotia participates in the Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreement and the Medical Reciprocal Billing Agreement. Quebec is the only province that does not participate in the medical reciprocal agreement. Nova Scotia pays for services provided by Quebec physicians to Nova Scotia residents at Quebec rates if the services are insured in Nova Scotia. The majority of such claims are received directly from Quebec physicians. In-patient hospital services are paid through the interprovincial reciprocal billing arrangement at the standard ward rate of the hospital providing the service.

Nova Scotia pays the host province rates for insured services in all reciprocal billing situations.

There were no changes made in Nova Scotia in 2009-2010 regarding in-Canada portability.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

Nova Scotia adheres to the Agreement on Eligibility and Portability for dealing with insured services for residents temporarily outside Canada. Provided a Nova Scotia resident meets eligibility requirements, out-of-country services will be paid, at a minimum, on the basis of the amount that would have been paid by Nova Scotia for similar services rendered in this province. Ordinarily, to be eligible for coverage, residents must not be outside the country for more than six months in a calendar year. In order to be covered, procedures of a non-emergency nature must have prior approval before they will be covered by MSI.

Students and their dependants who are temporarily absent from Nova Scotia and in full-time attendance at an educational institution outside Canada may remain eligible for MSI on a yearly basis. To qualify for MSI, the student must provide to MSI a letter obtained from the educational institution that verifies the student's attendance there in each year for which MSI coverage is requested.

Persons who engage in employment (including volunteer/ missionary work/research) outside Canada which does not exceed 24 months are still covered by MSI, providing the person has already met the residency requirements.

Emergency out-of-country services are paid at a minimum on the basis of the amount that would have been paid by Nova Scotia for similar services rendered in this province. There were no changes made in Nova Scotia in 2009-2010 regarding out-of-Canada portability.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Prior approval must be obtained for elective services outside the country. Application for prior approval is made to the Medical Director of the MSI Plan by a specialist in Nova Scotia on behalf of an insured resident. The medical consultant reviews the terms and conditions and determines whether or not the service is available in the province, or if it can be provided in another province or only out-of-country. The decision of the medical consultant is relayed to the patient's referring specialist. If approval is given to obtain service outside the country, the full cost of that service will be covered under MSI.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

Section 3 of the Health Services and Insurance Act states that subject to this Act and the regulations, all residents of the province are entitled to receive insured hospital services from hospitals on uniform terms and conditions. As well, all residents of the province are insured on uniform terms and conditions in respect of the payment of insured professional services to the extent of the established tariff. There are no user charges or extra charges allowed under the plan.

Nova Scotia continually reviews access situations across Canada to ensure equity of access. In areas where improvement is deemed necessary, depending on the province's financial situation, extra funding is generally allocated to that need.

The Department of Health and Capital Health have also successfully implemented an Orthopaedic Assessment Clinic with the involvement of Bone & Joint Decade. This has been undertaken to address the long orthopaedic wait list in the Halifax area. This ongoing project has reduced the wait time from general practitioner referral to specialist consultation from up to 18 months to 8-12 weeks.3 Funding has been committed for three additional Orthopaedic Assessment Clinics at the Valley Regional Hospital, the Aberdeen Hospital and the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. These clinics, as in the Capital District Health Authority, will help address orthopaedic wait lists provincially. These clinics are expected to open in the third quarter of fiscal year 2010-2011.

In addition to the latest diffusion of the four MRIs located in four rural areas (Antigonish, New Glasgow, Kentville, and Yarmouth) to increase rural access and reduce provincial wait times and the replacement of two MRIs at the Capital District Health Authority in Halifax, four new 64-slice computed tomography units have been installed/replaced in Halifax and two rural sites. Further, the Truro Regional Hospital replacement, which is now expected to open in the first quarter of 2012-2013, will be equipped with an MRI suite.

A cyclotron to support a local supply of required Fludeoxyglucose (18F), also known as FDG, used in medical imaging for the PET Program, became operational on July 1, 2010.

In 2009-2010, 2,401 physicians and 55 dentists actively provided insured services under the Canada Health Act or provincial legislation. Innovative funding solutions such as block funding and personal services contracts have enhanced recruitment.

The province has increased the capacity for medical education for both Canadian medical students and internationally educated physicians, coordinates ongoing recruitment activities, and has provided funding to create a re-entry program for general practitioners wishing to enter specialty training after completing two years of general practice service in the province.

5.2 Physician Compensation

The Health Services and Insurance Act, RS Chapter 197 governs payment to physicians and dentists for insured services. Physician payments are made in accordance with a negotiated agreement between Doctors Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Department of Health. Doctors Nova Scotia is recognized as the sole bargaining agent in support of physicians in the province. When negotiations take place, representatives from Doctors Nova Scotia and the Department of Health negotiate the total funding and other terms and conditions. The agreement lays out what the medical services unit value will be for physician services and addresses other issues such as the Canadian Medical Protective Association, membership benefits, emergency department payments, on-call funding, specific fee adjustments, dispute resolution processes, and other process or consultation issues.

Fee-for-service is still the most prevalent method of payment for physician services. However, there has been significant growth in the number of alternative payment arrangements in place in Nova Scotia.

Over the past number of years, we have seen a significant shift toward alternative payment. In the 1997-1998 fiscal year, about 9 percent of our doctors were paid solely through alternative funding. In 2009-2010, 26 percent of physicians were remunerated exclusively through alternative funding. Approximately 67 percent of physicians receive some portion of their remuneration through alternative funding. They can be broken down into three groups:

  1. Academic Funding Plan -- (these physicians are mainly located in Halifax at the QEII and the IWK centres). Most of the Academic Specialist groups are on alternate funding arrangements with the exception of Urology, QEII and IWK Radiology, IWK Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Ophthalmology.
  2. Currently there are regional specialist contracts for anaesthesiology, geriatrics, neonatology, paediatrics, obstetrics/gynaecology, and palliative care.
  3. There are also contract arrangements available to general practitioners in certain rural areas and general practitioner/nurse practitioner contracts that support collaborative practice teams in designated areas.

Alternative funding mechanisms include sessional, psychiatry, remote practice, facility on-call and emergency room funding. In total, over 67 percent of physicians in Nova Scotia receive all or a portion of their remuneration through alternative funding mechanisms.

Payment rates for dental services in the province are negotiated between the Department of Health and the Nova Scotia Dental Association, and follow a process similar to physician negotiations. Dentists are paid on a fee-for-service basis. The current agreement took effect April 1, 2008 and will expire on March 31, 2013.

5.3 Payments to Hospitals

The Department of Health establishes budget targets for health care services. It does this by receiving business plans from the nine (9) district health authorities (DHAs), the IWK Health Centre and other non-DHA organizations. Approved provincial estimates form the basis on which payments are made to these organizations for service delivery.

The Health Authorities Act was given Royal Assent on June 8, 2000. The Act instituted the nine DHAs & the IWK that replaced the former regional health boards. The DHAs/IWK are responsible (section 20 of the Act) for overseeing the delivery of health services in their districts, and are fully accountable for explaining their decisions on the community health plans through their business plan submissions to the Department of Health.

Section 10 of the Health Services and Insurance Act and sections 9 through 13 of the Hospital Insurance Regulations define the terms for payments by the Minister of Health to hospitals for insured hospital services.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

In Nova Scotia, the Health Services and Insurance Act acknowledges the federal contribution regarding the cost of insured hospital services and insured health services provided to provincial residents. The residents of Nova Scotia are aware of ongoing federal contributions to Nova Scotia health care through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) as well as other federal funds through press releases and media coverage.

The Government of Nova Scotia also recognized the federal contribution under the CHT in various published documents, including the following documents released in 2009-2010:

  • Public Accounts 2009-2010; and
  • Budget Estimates 2010-2011.
Registered Persons
  2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
1. Number as of July 1st (#). 963,993 965,044 970,450 975,206 981,922
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
2. Number (#). 35 35 35 35 35
3. Payments for insured health services ($).4 1,230,549,093 1,301,306,116 1,367,828,540 1,406,145,241 1,531,561,3115
Private For-Profit Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#).6 0 0 0 0 0
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($). not available not available not available not available not available
Insured Hospital Services provided to residents in another province or territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 2,252 2,154 2,257 2,310 2,089
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 16,285,032 14,502,141 16,726,553 15,924,363 16,289,798
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 37,811 41,729 42,569 42,089 39,443
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 7,345,702 8,269,002 8,946,688 11,558,634 11,180,204
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). not available not available not available not available not available
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 1,495,313 727,586 1,257,620 1,190,016 1,286,181
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). not available not available not available not available not available
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). not available not available not available not available not available
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
14. Number of participating physicians (#). 2,220 2,282 2,290 2,343 2,401
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#). 0 0 0 0 0
16. Number of non-participating physicians (#). 0 0 not available not available not available
17. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods ($). 540,495,196 581,817,423 555,659,788 598,546,450 637,434,810
18. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service ($). 254,621,655 255,007,711 258,751,069 266,174,648 301,217,024
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
19. Number of services (#). 198,262 205,237 212,404 215,490 197,580
20. Total payments ($). 6,619,938 7,091,572 7,606,977 7,671,840 7,362,277
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 2,981 2,931 2,701 3,051 3,418
22. Total payments ($). 151,414 153,937 134,729 161,555 200,452
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 33 29 27 29 55
24. Number of services provided (#).7 5,169 5,321 5,831 6,254 6,536
25. Total payments ($).8 1,060,006 1,122,126 1,215,333 1,374,645 1,380,344

1. Emergency/unexpected requirements may be considered at any time throughout the fiscal year.
2. These services may be insured when approved as special consideration for medical reasons only.
3. With Department of Health support, the Capital District Health Authority has committed to province an additional 430 arthroplasties on a yearly basis commencing in part in November 2009.
4. $'s are paid to acute care facilities/DHAs only.
5. 2009-2010 includes payments to the DHAs for Care Coordination as program was integrated with the DHAs in this fiscal year.
6. Scotia Surgery is not considered private, it is classified as a hospital (funded by the Department of Health).
7. Total services excludes block funded dentists.
8. Total payments excludes block funded dentists.

New Brunswick

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Introduction

New Brunswick's health care system, while continuing to provide excellent and trusted care to the public it serves, remains committed to the five fundamental principles of the Canada Health Act, a commitment which is evident in the day-to-day functioning of the various elements of the system.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

In New Brunswick, the formal name for "Medicare" is the Medical Services Plan. The Minister of Health ("Minister") is responsible for operating and administering the plan by virtue of the Medical Services Payment Act and its regulations. The Act and regulations set out who is eligible for Medicare coverage, the rights of the patient, and the responsibilities of the Department of Health ("the Department"). This law establishes a Medicare plan, and defines what Medicare services are covered and which are excluded. It also stipulates the type of agreements the Department may enter into with provinces and territories and with the New Brunswick Medical Society. As well, it specifies the rights of a medical practitioner; how the amounts to be paid for medical services will be determined; how assessment of accounts for medical services may be made; and confidentiality and privacy issues as they relate to the administration of the Act.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The Medicare--Insured Services Branch and the Medicare--Eligibility and Claims Branch of the Department are mandated to administer the Medical Services Plan. The Minister reports to the Legislative Assembly through the Department's annual report and through regular legislative processes.

The Regional Health Authorities Act establishes the regional health authorities (RHAs) and sets forth the powers, duties and responsibilities of same. The Minister is responsible for the administration of the Act, provides direction to each RHA, and may delegate additional powers, duties or functions to the RHAs.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

Three groups have a mandate to audit the Medical Services Plan.

  1. The Office of the Auditor General: In accordance with the Auditor General Act, the Office of the Auditor General conducts the external audit of the accounts of the Province of New Brunswick, which includes the financial records of the Department. The Auditor General also conducts management reviews on programs as he or she sees fit.
  2. The Office of the Comptroller: The Comptroller is the chief internal auditor for the Province of New Brunswick and provides accounting, audit and consulting services in accordance with responsibilities and authority set out in the Financial Administration Act.
  3. The Department's Internal Audit Branch was established to independently review and evaluate departmental activities as a service to all levels of management.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Legislation providing for insured hospital services includes the Hospital Services Act, section 9 of Regulation 84-167, and the Hospital Act. Under Regulation 84-167 of the Hospital Services Act, New Brunswick residents are entitled to the following in-patient and out-patient insured hospital services. There were no legislative changes in 2009-2010.

Insured in-patient services include: accommodation and meals, nursing, laboratory and diagnostic procedures, drugs and the use of facilities (e.g. surgical, radiotherapy, physiotherapy), and services provided by professionals within the facility.

Insured out-patient services include: laboratory and diagnostic procedures, mammography and the hospital component of available out-patient services for maintaining health, preventing disease and helping diagnose/treat any injury, illness or disability, excluding those related to the provision of drugs or third party diagnostic requests.

An individual, a physician or the Department may request the addition of a new service. All requests are considered by the New Service Items Committee, which is jointly managed by the New Brunswick Medical Society and the Department. The decision to add a new service is usually based on conformity to "medically necessary" and whether the service is considered generally acceptable practice (not experimental) within New Brunswick and Canada. Considerations under the term "medically necessary" include services required for maintaining health, preventing disease and/or diagnosing or treating an injury, illness or disability. No public consultation process is used.

No hospital services were added or deleted during fiscal 2009-2010.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The enabling legislation providing for insured physician services is the Medical Services Payment Act and corresponding regulations.

No changes pertaining to physician services were introduced to this Act and regulations during fiscal 2009-2010.

The number of physicians with an active status as of March 31, 2010, was 1,571.

Physicians in New Brunswick have the option to opt out totally or for selected services. Totally opted-out practitioners are not paid directly by Medicare for the services they render and must bill patients directly in all cases. Patients are not entitled to reimbursement from Medicare for services rendered by totally opted-out physicians.

The selective opting-out provision may not be invoked in the case of an emergency or for continuation of care commenced on an opted-in basis. Opted-in physicians wishing to opt out for a service must first obtain the patient's agreement to be treated on an opted-out basis, after which they may bill the patient directly for the service. In these instances, the following procedures must be adhered to.

The physician must advise the patient in advance and:

  • The charges must not exceed the Medicare tariff. The practitioner must complete the specified Medicare claim forms and indicate the exact total amount charged to the patient. The beneficiary seeks reimbursement by certifying on the claim form that the services have been received and by forwarding the claim form to Medicare;
  • If the charges will be in excess of the Medicare tariff, the practitioner must inform the beneficiary before rendering the service that:
    • they are opting out and charging fees above the Medicare tariff;
    • in accepting service under these conditions, the beneficiary waives all rights to Medicare reimbursement;
    • the patient is entitled to seek services from another practitioner who participates in the Medical Services Plan; and
    • the physician must obtain a signed waiver from the patient on the specified form and forward this form to Medicare.

As of March 31, 2010, no physicians rendering health care services had elected to completely opt out of the New Brunswick Medical Services Plan.

The services entitled under Medicare include:

  1. the medical portion of all services rendered by medical practitioners that are medically required; and
  2. certain surgical-dental procedures when performed by a physician or a dental surgeon in a hospital facility.

An individual, a physician or the Department may request the addition of a new service. All requests are considered by the New Service Items Committee, which is jointly managed by the New Brunswick Medical Society and the Department. The decision to add a new service is usually based on conformity to "medically necessary" and whether the service is considered generally acceptable practice (not experimental) within New Brunswick and Canada. Considerations under the term "medically necessary" include services required for maintaining health, preventing disease and/or diagnosing or treating an injury, illness or disability. No public consultation process is used.

No physician services were added or deleted during fiscal 2009-2010.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Schedule 4 of Regulation 84-20 under the Medical Services Payment Act identifies the insured surgical dental services that can be provided by a qualified dental practitioner in a hospital, providing the condition of the patient requires services to be rendered in a hospital. In addition, a general dental practitioner may be paid to assist another dentist for medically required services under some conditions.

In addition to Schedule 4 of Regulation 84-20, oral maxillofacial surgeons (OMS) have added access to approximately 300 service codes in the Physician Manual and can admit/discharge patients and perform physical examinations, including those performed in an out-patient setting.

As of March 31, 2010, there were 99 OMSs and dentists registered with the New Brunswick Medical Services Plan.

OMSs and dentists have the same opting out provision as physicians (see section 2.2) and must follow the same guidelines. The Department has no data for the number of non-enrolled dental practitioners in New Brunswick.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Uninsured hospital services include: patent medicines, take-home drugs, third-party requests for diagnostic services, visits to administer drugs, vaccines, sera or biological products, televisions and telephones, preferred accommodation at the patient's request, and hospital services directly related to services listed under Schedule 2 of the Regulation under the Medical Services Payment Act.

Services are not insured if provided to those entitled under other statutes.

The services listed in Schedule 2 of New Brunswick Regulation 84-20 under the Medical Services Payment Act are specifically excluded from the range of entitled medical services under Medicare. They are as follows:

  • elective plastic surgery or other services for cosmetic purposes;
  • correction of inverted nipple;
  • breast augmentation;
  • otoplasty for persons over the age of eighteen;
  • removal of minor skin lesions, except where the lesions are, or are suspected to be pre-cancerous;
  • abortion, unless the abortion is performed by a specialist in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology in a hospital facility approved by the jurisdiction in which the hospital facility is located and two medical practitioners certify in writing that the abortion was medically required;
  • surgical assistance for cataract surgery unless such assistance is required because of risk of procedural failure, other than risk inherent in the removal of the cataract itself, due to existence of an illness or other complication;
  • medicines, drugs, materials, surgical supplies or prosthetic devices;
  • vaccines, serum, drugs and biological products listed in sections 106 and 108 of New Brunswick Regulation 88-200 under the Health Act;
  • advice or prescription renewal by telephone which is not specifically provided for in the Schedule of Fees;
  • examination of medical records or certificates at the request of a third party, or other services required by hospital regulations or medical by-laws;
  • dental services provided by a medical practitioner or an oral and maxillofacial surgeon;
  • services that are generally accepted within New Brunswick as experimental or that are provided as applied research;
  • services that are provided in conjunction with, or in relation to, the services referred to above;
  • testimony in a court or before any other tribunal;
  • immunization, examinations or certificates for purpose of travel, employment, emigration, insurance or at the request of any third party;
  • services provided by medical practitioners or oral and maxillofacial surgeons to members of their immediate family;
  • psychoanalysis;
  • electrocardiogram (E.C.G.) where not performed by a specialist in internal medicine or paediatrics;
  • laboratory procedures not included as part of an examination or consultation fee;
  • refractions;
  • services provided within the province by medical practitioners, oral and maxillofacial surgeons or dental practitioners for which the fee exceeds the amount payable under regulation;
  • the fitting and supplying of eye glasses or contact lenses;
  • trans-sexual surgery;
  • radiology services provided in the province by a private radiology clinic;
  • acupuncture;
  • complete medical examinations when performed for the purposes of periodic check-up and not for medically necessary purposes;
  • circumcision of the newborn;
  • reversal of vasectomies;
  • second and subsequent injections for impotence;
  • reversal of tubal ligations;
  • intrauterine insemination;
  • bariatric surgery unless the person has a body mass index of 40 or greater or of 35 or greater but less than 40, as well as obesity-related comorbid conditions;
  • venipuncture for purposes of taking blood when performed as a stand-alone procedure in a facility that is not an approved hospital facility.

Dental services not specifically listed in Schedule 4 of the Dental Schedule are not covered by the Plan. Those listed in Schedule 2 are considered the only non-insured medical services. There are no specific policies or guidelines, other than the Act and regulations, to ensure that charges for uninsured medical goods and services (i.e., enhanced medical goods and services such as intraocular lenses, fibreglass casts, etc.), provided in conjunction with an insured health service, do not compromise reasonable access to insured services. Intraocular lenses are now provided by the hospitals.

The decision to de-insure physician or surgical-dental services is based on the conformity of the service to the definition of "medically necessary," a review of medical service plans across the country, and the previous use of the particular service. Once a decision to de-insure is reached, the Medical Services Payment Act dictates that the government may not make any changes to the Regulation until the advice and recommendations of the New Brunswick Medical Society are received or until the period within which the Society was requested by the Minister to furnish advice and make recommendations has expired. Subsequent to receiving their input and resolution of any issues, a regulatory change is completed. Physicians are informed in writing following notification of approval. The public is usually informed through a media release. No public consultation process is used.

In 2009-2010, no services were removed from the insured service list.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Sections 3 and 4 of the Medical Services Payment Act and Regulation 84-20 define eligibility for the health care insurance plan in New Brunswick.

Residents are required to complete a Medicare application and to provide proof of Canadian citizenship, Native status or a valid Canadian immigration document. A resident is defined as a person lawfully entitled to be, or to remain, in Canada, who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present in New Brunswick, but does not include a tourist, transient, or visitor to the province. As of March 31, 2010, there were 744,048 registered persons in New Brunswick.

All persons entering or returning to New Brunswick (excluding children adopted from outside Canada) have a waiting period before becoming eligible for Medicare coverage. Coverage commences on the first day of the third month following the month of arrival. Exceptions are as follows:

  1. In June 2010, Regulation 84-20 under the Medical Services Payment Act was amended to state that dependents of Canadian Armed Forces personnel or their spouses moving from within Canada to New Brunswick will now be entitled to first day coverage under the program, provided they are deemed to have established permanent residence in New Brunswick.
  2. In June 2010, Regulation 84-20 under the Medical Services Payment Act was amended to state that immigrants or Canadian residents moving or returning to New Brunswick will now be entitled to first day coverage, provided they are deemed to have established permanent residence in the province. Proper documentation is required (immigration and citizenship documentation) and decisions on coverage/residency are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Residents who are not eligible for Medicare coverage include:

  • regular members of the Canadian Armed Forces;
  • members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police;
  • inmates at federal institutions;
  • temporary residents;
  • a family member who moves from another province to New Brunswick before other family members move;
  • persons who have entered New Brunswick from another province to further their education and who are eligible to receive coverage under the medical services plan of that province; and
  • non-Canadians who are issued certain types of Canadian authorization permits (e.g., a Student Authorization).

Provisions to become eligible for Medicare coverage include:

  • Non-Canadians who are issued an immigration permit that would not normally entitle them to coverage are eligible if legally married to, or in a common-law relationship with, a New Brunswick resident.

Provisions when status changes include:

  • Persons who are discharged or released from the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP or a federal penitentiary. Provided they are residing in New Brunswick when discharged/released, these persons become eligible for coverage on the date of their discharge/release. An application must be completed, and the official date of release and proof of citizenship must be provided.

3.2 Other Categories of Individual

Non-Canadians who may be issued an immigration permit that would not normally entitle them to Medicare coverage are eligible provided that they are legally married to, or living in a common-law relationship with an eligible New Brunswick resident and still possess a valid immigration permit. At the time of renewal, they are required to provide an updated immigration document.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

A person is eligible for New Brunswick Medicare coverage on the first day of the third month following the month permanent residence has been established. The three month waiting period is legislated under New Brunswick's Medical Services Payment Act and no exemptions can be made.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

The legislation that defines portability of health insurance during temporary absences in Canada is the Medical Services Payment Act, Regulation 84-20, sub-sections 3(4) and 3(5).

Medicare coverage is extended in the case of temporary absences to:

  • students in full time attendance at an educational institution outside New Brunswick;
  • residents temporarily working in another jurisdiction; and
  • residents whose employment requires them to travel outside the province.
Students

Those in full-time attendance at a university or other approved educational institution, who leave the province to further their education in another province, will be granted coverage for a twelve month period that is renewable, provided the following terms are met:

  • proof of enrolment is provided;
  • Medicare is contacted once every twelve months;
  • permanent residence is not established outside New Brunswick; and
  • health coverage is not received elsewhere.
Residents

Residents temporarily employed in another province or territory are granted coverage for up to twelve months provided the following terms are met:

  • permanent residence is not established outside New Brunswick; and
  • health coverage is not received elsewhere.

New Brunswick has formal agreements for reciprocal billing arrangements of insured hospital services with all provinces and territories. In addition, New Brunswick has reciprocal agreements with all provinces, except Quebec, for the provision of insured physician services. Services provided by Quebec physicians to New Brunswick residents are paid at Quebec rates provided the service delivered is insured in New Brunswick.

The majority of such claims are received directly from Quebec physicians. Any claims submitted directly by a patient are reimbursed to the patient.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The legislation that defines portability of health insurance during temporary absences outside Canada is the Medical Services Payment Act, Regulation 84-20, subsections 3(4) and 3(5).

Eligibility for "temporarily absent" New Brunswick residents is determined in accordance with the Medical Services Payment Act and regulations and the Inter- Provincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability.

Residents temporarily employed outside Canada are granted coverage for up to twelve months (regardless if it is known beforehand that they will be absent beyond the twelve month period), provided they do not establish residence outside Canada.

Any absence over one hundred and eighty-two days, whether it is for work purposes or vacation, would require the Director's approval. This approval can only be up to twelve months in duration and will only be granted once every three years. Families of workers temporarily employed outside Canada will continue to be covered, provided they reside in New Brunswick.

New Brunswick residents who exceed the twelve month extension have to reapply for New Brunswick Medicare upon their return to the province, and be subject to the legislated three month waiting period. However, a "grace period" of up to fourteen days may be extended to those residents who have been "temporarily absent" slightly beyond the twelve month period.

Mobile Workers

Mobile Workers are residents whose employment requires them to travel outside the province (e.g., pilots, truck drivers, etc.). Certain guidelines must be met to receive Mobile Worker designation. They are as follows:

  • an application is to be submitted in writing;
  • documentation is required as proof of Mobile Worker status (e.g., letter from employer confirming that frequent travel is necessary outside the province; a letter from the resident detailing their permanent residence as New Brunswick and the frequency of their return to the province; a copy of their New Brunswick driver's license; if working outside Canada, a copy of resident's immigration documents that allow them to work outside the country); and
  • the worker must return to New Brunswick during their off-time.

Mobile Worker status is assigned for a maximum of two years, after which the resident must reapply and submit documentation to confirm a continuation of Mobile Worker status.

Contract Workers

Any New Brunswick resident accepting a contract out-of-country must supply the following information and documentation:

  • a letter of request from the New Brunswick resident with their signature, detailing their absence, including: Medicare number, address, departure and return dates, destination, forwarding address and reason for absence; and
  • a copy of a contractual agreement between employee and employer indicating start and end dates of employment.

Contract Worker status is assigned up to a maximum of two years. Any further requests for Contract Worker status must be forwarded to the Director of Medicare Eligibility and Claims for approval on an individual basis.

Students

Those in full-time attendance at a university or other approved educational institution in another country will be granted coverage for a twelve month period that is renewable, provided they comply with the following:

  • proof of enrolment be provided;
  • contact Medicare once every twelve months to retain eligibility;
  • permanent residence is not established outside New Brunswick; and
  • health coverage is not received elsewhere.

Insured residents who receive insured emergency services out of country are eligible to be reimbursed $100 per day for in-patient stay and $50 per outpatient visit. The insured resident is reimbursed for physician services associated with the emergency treatment at New Brunswick rates. The difference in rates is the patient's responsibility.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Medicare will cover out-of-country services that are not available in Canada on a pre-approval basis only. Residents may opt to seek non-emergency out-of-country services; however, those who receive such services will assume responsibility for the total cost.

New Brunswick residents may be eligible for reimbursement if they receive elective medical services outside the country, provided the following requirements are met:

  • the required service/equivalent or alternate service must not be available in Canada;
  • the service must be rendered in a hospital listed in the current edition of the American Hospital Association Guide to the Health Care Field (guide to United States hospitals, health care systems, networks, alliances, health organizations, agencies and providers);
  • the service must be rendered by a medical doctor; and
  • the service must be an accepted method of treatment recognized by the medical community and be regarded as scientifically proven in Canada. Experimental procedures are not covered.

If the above requirements are met, it is mandatory to request prior approval from Medicare in order to receive coverage. A physician, patient or family member may request prior approval to receive these services outside the country, accompanied by supporting documentation from a Canadian specialist or specialists.

Out-of-country insured services that are not available in Canada, are non-experimental, and receive prior approval are paid in full. Often the amount payable is negotiated with the provider by the Canadian Medical Network on the province's behalf.

The following are considered exemptions under the out-of-country coverage policy:

  • haemodialysis: patients will be required to obtain prior approval and Medicare will reimburse the resident at a rate equivalent to the inter-provincial rate of $220 per session; and
  • allergy testing for environmental sensitivity: all tests outside the country will be paid at a maximum rate of $50 per day, an amount equivalent to an out-patient visit.

Prior approval is also required to refer patients to psychiatric hospitals and addiction centres outside the province because they are excluded from the Interprovincial Reciprocal Billing Agreement. A request for prior approval must be received by Medicare from the Addiction Services or Mental Health branches of the Department of Health.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

All residents of New Brunswick have equal access to insured health services. New Brunswick charges no user fees for insured services as defined by the Canada Health Act.

The Department uses various tools to ensure that the services provided reach as broad a segment of the population as possible. As one example, the Saint John Heart Centre has a wait list for tertiary cardiac services; the list includes some standard criteria for triage. Those on the list are there because of their health needs, not because of where they live or because of their demographic group.

Numerous initiatives have been put in place to address inequalities between urban and rural areas, and to use resources more effectively. These include Tele-health services, the Extra-Mural program, regional dialysis clinics, and the creation of Ambulance New Brunswick (ANB). ANB was created so as to improve equity of access to ambulance services between rural and urban areas. There are now clear criteria for response times, and these are measured in ANB's contract.

Access in a resident's official language of choice is not a limiting factor, regardless of where a resident receives services in the province.

5.2 Physician Compensation

Payments to physicians and dentists are governed under the Medical Services Payment Act, Regulations 84-20, 93-143 and 96-113.

The methods used to compensate physicians for providing insured health services in New Brunswick are fee-for-service, salary and sessional or alternate payment mechanisms that may also include a blended system.

5.3 Payments to Hospitals

The legislative authorities governing payments to hospital facilities in New Brunswick are the Hospital Act, which governs the administration of hospitals, and the Hospital Services Act, which governs the financing of hospitals. The Regional Health Authorities Act provides for the delivery and administration of health services in defined geographic areas within the province.

The Department mainly distributes available funding to New Brunswick's regional health authorities (RHAs) through a Current Service Level approach. The funding base of the RHA from the previous year is the starting point, to which approved salary increases and a global inflator for non-wage items are added. This applies to all clinical services provided by hospital facilities as well as support services (e.g., administration, laundry, food services, etc.). Funding for the Extra-Mural Program (home care) is also part of the RHA base.

Funding for FacilicorpNB, a shared services agency that manages the information technology, materials management and clinical engineering components of the hospital facilities in New Brunswick, is also based on the Current Service Level approach.

Any requests for funding for new programs/services are submitted to the Deputy Minister of Health. Evaluations of the requests, using a newly-developed Sustainability Lens process, are done by Department of Health officials, in collaboration with RHA and FacilicorpNB staff.

Funding for approved new programs/services is based on requirements identified through discussions between Department of Health and RHA staff. These amounts are added to the RHA funding base once there is agreement on the funding requirements.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

New Brunswick routinely recognizes the federal role regarding its contributions under the Canada Health Transfer in public documentation presented through legislative and administrative processes. Federal transfers are identified in the Main Estimates document and in the Public Accounts of New Brunswick. Both documents are published annually by the New Brunswick government.

Registered Persons
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 740,759 738,651 740,845 742,974 744,048
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
2. Number (#). 50 50 50 53 56
3. Payments for insured health services ($). 1,205,197,000 1,290,887,880 1,372,911,800 1,449,216,237 1,590,399,994
Private For-Profit Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#).1 not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($).1 not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
Insured Hospital Services provided to residents in another province or territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 3,740 4,363 4,363 3,919 4,036
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 32,494,834 42,267,067 42,267,067 37,772,992 37,343,696
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 44,941 51,406 51,406 46,824 49,005
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 10,022,287 11,316,103 11,316,103 12,858,195 14,912,717
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 215 211 209 196 251
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 374,035 741,599 726,650 753,104 556,678
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 1,453 1,122 1,073 1,430 1,575
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 321,202 358,594 441,575 561,855 883,980
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
14. Number of participating physicians (#).2 1,381 1,399 1,453 1,500 1,571
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#). not available not available not available not available 0
16. Number of non-participating physicians (#). not available not available not applicable not applicable 0
17. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods ($).3 373,500,994 400,481,139 421,547,901 441,197,899 505,899,089
18. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service ($).3 240,841,117 244,907,268 254,454,602 260,939,796 273,030,951
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
 s 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
19. Number of services (#). 202,555 192,544 213,710 197,023 266,918
20. Total payments ($). 11,353,739 11,125,487 11,998,933 11,607,119 16,206,261
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 6,707 6,047 5,990 4,175 5,885
22. Total payments ($). 449,689 417,942 487,679 341,618 440,957
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
23. Number of participating dentists (#).4 21 25 21 26 16
24. Number of services provided (#). 2,890 2,472 2,962 3,323 3,363
25. Total payments ($). 621,491 502,913 598,383 571,175 385,796

1. There are no private for-profit facilities operating in New Brunswick.
2. These are the number of physicians with an active physician status on March 31st of each year.
3. The Total Payment for all payment methods is a preliminary figure and includes budgeted amounts for alternate funding plans. Total Payment for fee-for-service is for automated fee-for-service only.
4. These are the number of Dentists and Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons participating in New Brunswick's Medical Services Plan during each fiscal year.

Quebec

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1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Insurance Plan and Public Authority

Quebec's hospital insurance plan, the Régime d'assurance hospitalisation du Québec, is administered by the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) (the Quebec department of health and social services).

Quebec's health insurance plan, the Régime d'assurance maladie du Québec, is administered by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) (the Quebec health insurance board), a public body established by the provincial government and reporting to the Minister of Health and Social Services.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The Public Administration Act (R.S.Q., c. A-6.01) sets out the government criteria for preparing reports on the planning and performance of public authorities, including the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux and the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

Both plans (the Quebec hospital insurance plan and the Quebec health insurance plan) are operated on a nonprofit basis. All books and accounts are audited by the Auditor General of the province.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Insured inpatient services include the following: standard ward accommodation and meals; necessary nursing services; routine surgical supplies; diagnostic services; use of operating rooms, delivery rooms and anesthetic facilities; medications, prosthetics and orthotic devices that can be integrated with the human body; biologicals and related preparations; use of radiotherapy, radiology and physiotherapy facilities; and services rendered by hospital staff.

Outpatient services include the following: clinical services for psychiatric care; electroshock, insulin and behaviour therapies; emergency care; minor surgery (day surgery); radiotherapy; diagnostic services; physiotherapy; occupational therapy; inhalation therapy, audiology, speech therapy and orthoptic services; and other services or examinations required under Quebec legislation.

Other services covered by insurance are the following: mechanical, hormonal or chemical contraception services; surgical sterilization services (including tubal ligation and vasectomy); reanastomosis of the fallopian tubes or vas deferens; and extraction of a tooth or root when the patient's health status makes hospital services necessary.

The MSSS administers an ambulance transportation program that is free of charge to persons aged 65 or older.

In addition to basic insured health services, the Régie also covers the following, with some limitations, for certain inhabitants of Quebec, as defined by the Health Insurance Act, and for employment assistance recipients: optometric services; dental care for children and employment assistance recipients, and acrylic dental prostheses for employment assistance recipients; prostheses, orthopedic appliances, locomotion and postural aids, and other equipment that helps with a physical disability; external breast prostheses; ocular prostheses; hearing aids, assistive listening devices and visual aids for people with a visual or auditory disability; and permanent ostomy appliances.

With regard to drug insurance, since January 1, 1997, the Régie has covered, in addition to its regular clientele (employment assistance recipients and persons 65 years of age or older), individuals who would not otherwise have access to a private drug insurance plan. In 2009-2010, the drug insurance plan covers 3.3 million insured persons.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The services insured under this plan include medical and surgical services that are provided by physicians and that are medically necessary.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Services insured under this plan include oral surgery performed by dental surgeons and specialists in oral and maxillo-facial surgery, in a hospital centre or university institution determined by regulation.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Uninsured hospital services include: plastic surgery; in vitro fertilization; a private or semi-private room at the patient's request; televisions; telephones; drugs and biologics ordered after discharge from hospital; and services for which the patient is covered under the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases or other federal or provincial legislation.

The following services are not insured: any examination or service not related to a process of cure or prevention of illness; psychoanalysis of any kind, unless such service is rendered in a facility maintained by an institution authorized for such purpose by the Minister of Health and Social Services; any service provided solely for aesthetic purposes; any refractive surgery, except where there is documented failure in respect of corrective lenses and contact lenses for astigmatism of more than 3 diopters or anisometropia of more than 5 diopters, measured from the cornea; any consultation by telecommunication or by correspondence; any service rendered by a professional to his or her spouse or children; any examination, expert appraisal, testimony, certificate or other formality required for legal purposes or by a person other than one who has received an insured service, except in certain cases; any visit made for the sole purpose of obtaining the renewal of a prescription; any examinations, vaccinations, immunizations or injections, where the service is provided to a group or for certain purposes; any service rendered by a professional on the basis of an agreement or contract with an employer, association or body; any adjustment of spectacles or contact lenses; any surgical extraction of a tooth or dental fragment performed by a physician, unless such a service is provided in a hospital centre in certain cases; all acupuncture procedures; injection of sclerosing substances and the examination performed at that time; mammography used for screening purposes, unless this service is rendered on medical prescription in a place designated by the Minister to a recipient 35 years of age or older, provided that the person has not been so examined for one year; thermography, tomodensitometry, magnetic resonance imaging and use of radionuclides in vivo in humans, unless these services are rendered in a hospital centre; ultrasonography, unless this service is rendered in a hospital centre or, for obstetrical purposes, in a local community service centre (CLSC) recognized for that purpose; any radiological or anesthetic service provided by a physician, if required with a view to providing an uninsured service, with the exception of a dental service provided in a hospital centre or, in the case of radiology, if ordered by a person other than a physician or dentist; any sex-reassignment surgery, unless it is provided on the recommendation of a physician specializing in psychiatry and is provided in a hospital centre recognized for this purpose; and any services that are not related to a pathology and that are rendered by a physician to a beneficiary between 18 and 65 years of age, unless that individual is the holder of a claim booklet, for colour blindness or a refractive error, in order to provide or renew a prescription for spectacles or contact lenses.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Registration with the hospital insurance plan is not required. Registration with the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec or proof of residence is sufficient to establish eligibility. All persons who reside or stay in Quebec must be registered with the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec to be eligible for coverage under the health insurance plan.

3.2 Other Categories of Individual

Services received by regular members of the Canadian Forces, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and inmates of federal penitentiaries are not covered by the plan. There are no health premium charges.

Certain categories of residents, notably permanent residents under the Immigration Act and persons returning to live in Canada, become eligible under the plan following a waiting period of up to three months. Persons receiving last resort financial assistance are eligible upon registration. Members of the Canadian Forces and RCMP who have not acquired the status of resident of Quebec, and inmates of federal penitentiaries become eligible the day they are released. Immediate coverage is provided for certain seasonal workers, repatriated Canadians, persons from outside Canada who are living in Quebec under an official bursary or internship program of the Ministère de l'Éducation (the Quebec department of education), and refugees. Foreign nationals who have work permits and are living in Quebec for the purpose of holding an office or employment for a period of more than six months become eligible for the plan following a waiting period.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

Persons settling in Quebec after moving from another province of Canada are entitled to coverage under the Quebec health insurance plan when they cease to be entitled to benefits from their province of origin, provided they register with the Régie.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

If living outside Quebec in another province or territory for 183 days or more, and provided they notify the Régie of this, students and full-time unpaid trainees may retain their status as residents of Quebec: students for a maximum of four consecutive calendar years, and full-time unpaid trainees for a maximum of two consecutive calendar years.

This is also the case for persons living in another province or territory who are temporarily employed or working on contract there. Their resident status can be maintained for no more than two consecutive calendar years.

Persons directly employed or working on contract outside Quebec for a company or corporate body having its headquarters or place of business in Quebec, or employed by the federal government and posted outside Quebec also retain their status as a resident of the province. The same is true of persons who remain outside the province for 183 days or more, but less than 12 months within a calendar year, provided such absence occurs only once every seven years.

The costs of medical services received by a beneficiary in another province or territory of Canada are reimbursed at the amount actually paid or the rate that would have been paid by the Régie for such services in Quebec, whichever is less. However, Quebec has negotiated a permanent arrangement with Ontario to pay Ottawa doctors at the Ontario fee rate for emergency care when the specialized services provided are not offered in the Outaouais region. This agreement came into effect on November 1, 1989. A similar agreement between the Centre de santé Témiscaming (Témiscaming health centre) and North Bay was signed in December 1991.

Costs of hospital services with which a beneficiary is provided in another province or territory of Canada are paid in accordance with the terms and conditions of the interprovincial agreement on reciprocal billing regarding hospital insurance reached by the provinces and territories of Canada. These costs are paid either at the established ward rate approved by the host province or territory or, in the cases of outpatient services or expensive procedures, at the approved interprovincial rates. Insured persons who leave Quebec to settle in another province or territory of Canada are covered for up to three months after leaving the province.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

Students, unpaid trainees, Quebec government officials posted abroad and employees of non-profit organizations working in international aid or cooperation programs recognized by the Minister of Health and Social Services must contact the Régie to determine their eligibility. If the Régie grants them special status, they receive full reimbursement of hospital costs in case of emergency or sudden illness, and 75 percent reimbursement in other cases.

As of September 1, 1996, hospital services provided outside Canada in case of emergency or sudden illness are reimbursed by the Régie, usually in Canadian funds, to a maximum of CAN$100 per day if the patient was hospitalized (including in the case of day surgery) or to a maximum of CAN$50 per day for out-patient services.

However, hemodialysis treatments are covered to a maximum of CAN$220 per treatment, including drugs, whether the patient is hospitalized or not. In such cases, the Régie provides reimbursement for the associated professional services. The services must be rendered in a hospital or hospital centre recognized and accredited by the appropriate authorities. No reimbursements are made for nursing homes, spas or similar establishments.

Costs for insured services provided by physicians, dentists, oral surgeons and optometrists are reimbursed at the rate that would have been paid by the Régie to a health professional recognized in Quebec, up to the amount of the expenses actually incurred. The cost of all services insured in the province is reimbursed at the Quebec rate, usually in Canadian dollars, when they are incurred abroad.

An insured person who moves permanently from Quebec to another country ceases to be a recipient as of the day of departure.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Insured persons requiring medical services in hospitals abroad, in cases where those services are not available in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada, are reimbursed 100 percent if prior consent has been given for medical and hospital services that meet certain conditions. Consent is not given by the plan's officials if the medical service in question is available in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

Everyone has the right to receive adequate health care services without any kind of discrimination. There is no extra-billing by Quebec physicians.

On March 31, 2010, Quebec had 117 institutions operating as hospital centres for a clientele suffering from acute illnesses. On that date, 20,465 beds for persons requiring care for acute physical or psychiatric ailments were allotted to these institutions. From April 1, 2008, to March 31, 2009, Quebec hospital institutions had 720,718 admissions for short stays (including newborns) and 312,168 registrations for day surgeries. These hospitalizations accounted for 5,052,538 patient days.

Restructuring of the health network: In November 2003, Quebec announced the implementation of local service networks covering all of Quebec. At the heart of each local network is a new local authority, the Centre de santé et de services sociaux (CSSS; the health and social services centre). These centres are the result of the merger of the public institutions tasked with providing CLSC (local community service centre) services, CHSLD (residential and long-term care) services, and, in most cases, neighbourhood hospital services. The CSSSs must also provide the people in their area with access to other medical services, general and specialized hospital services, and social services. To do so, they must enter into service agreements with other health sector organizations. Linking services within an area constitutes a local services network. Thus, the aim of integrated local health and social services networks is to make all stakeholders in a given area collectively responsible for the health and well-being of the people in their territory.

Since 2003–2004, family medicine groups (FMGs) have been established. An FMG is a group of doctors working as a team, in close collaboration with nurses and other CSSS professionals to offer services ranging from assessment of health status to case management, monitoring, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic problems, and disease prevention. Their services include medical consultations with and without appointments, seven days a week, and an adapted response to people whose health status requires special arrangements for access to services. In March 2010, there were 216 accredited FMGs and 44 network-clinics in Quebec.

5.2 Physician Compensation

Physicians are remunerated in accordance with the negotiated fee schedule. Physicians who have withdrawn from the health insurance plan are paid directly by the patient according to the fee schedule after the patient has collected from the Régie. Patients pay the amount charged directly to their non-participating physicians. Provision is made in law for reasonable compensation for all insured health services rendered by health professionals. The Minister may enter into an agreement with the organizations representing any class of health professional. This agreement may prescribe a different rate of compensation for medical services in an area where the number of professionals is considered insufficient. The Minister may also provide for a different rate of compensation for general practitioners and medical specialists during the first years of practice, depending on the area or the activity involved. These provisions are preceded by consultation with the organizations representing the professional groups.

While the majority of physicians practise within the provincial plan, Quebec allows two other options: professionals who have withdrawn from the plan and practise outside the plan, but agree to remuneration according to the provincial fee schedule; and nonparticipating professionals who practise outside the plan, with no reimbursement from the Régie going to either them or their patients.

According to the most recent data available, the Régie paid an estimated $4,057.6 million to doctors in the province in 2008-2009, while the amount for medical services outside the province reached an estimated $10.6 million.

5.3 Payments to Hospitals

The Minister of Health and Social Services funds hospitals through payments directly related to the cost of insured services provided.

More than $9 billion in payments were made in 2009-2010 to institutions operating as hospital centres for insured health services provided to inhabitants of Quebec. Payments to hospital centres outside Quebec were approximately $161.43 million.

Ontario

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Introduction

Ontario has one of the largest and most complex publicly funded health care systems in the world. Administered by the province's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), Ontario's health care system was supported by over $42 billion (including capital) in spending for 2009-2010.

The Ministry provides services to the public through such programs as health insurance, drug benefits, assistive devices, forensic mental health and supportive housing, long-term care, home care, community and public health, and health promotion and disease prevention. It also regulates hospitals and nursing homes, operates medical laboratories and coordinates emergency health services.

Fourteen Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) plan, fund and integrate local health care services. With the LHINs responsible for local health care management, the Ministry assumes a stewardship role establishing overall strategic direction and priorities for the provincial health care system.

Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

Ontario Health Care and Health Care Planning

The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) is administered on a non-profit basis by MOHLTC. OHIP was established in 1972 and is continued under the Health Insurance Act, Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990, c. H-6, to provide insurance in respect of the cost of insured services provided in hospitals and health facilities, and by physicians and other health care practitioners.

Local Health Integrated Networks (LHINs) were established under the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006 to improve Ontarians' health through better access to high-quality health services, coordinated health care, and effective and efficient management of the health system at the local level. On April 1, 2007, the LHINs assumed responsibilities for funding, planning, and integrating health care services at the local level.

LHINs are crown agencies that plan, fund and integrate local health care services that are delivered by hospitals, community care access centres, long-term care homes, community health centres, community support services, and mental health and addictions agencies.

The Act also reaffirms the principles of the French Languages Services Act to ensure equitable access to services in French for French-speaking Ontarians.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The Health Insurance Act stipulates that the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care is responsible for the administration and operation of OHIP, and is Ontario's public authority for the purposes of the Canada Health Act.

The Local Health System Integration Act requires each LHIN to prepare an Annual Report for the Minister who is required to table the reports in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

MOHLTC has accountability agreements with each LHIN that include performance goals and objectives for the networks. The agreements also include the allocations for health service providers. The legislation also provides the LHINs with the authority to fund health service providers and to enter into service accountability agreements with each provider.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

MOHLTC is audited annually by the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario. The Auditor General's 2009 Annual Report was released on December 7, 2009.

MOHLTC's accounts and transactions are published annually in the Public Accounts of Ontario. The 2009-2010 Public Accounts of Ontario were released on August 23, 2010.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Insured in-patient and out-patient hospital services in Ontario are prescribed under the Health Insurance Act, and Regulation 552 under the Act.

Insured in-patient hospital services1 include medically required: use of operating rooms, obstetrical delivery rooms and anaesthetic facilities; necessary nursing services; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures together with the necessary interpretations for the purpose of maintaining health, preventing disease and assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of any injury, illness or disability, e.g., dialysis related equipment and supplies; drugs, biologicals and related preparations; and accommodation and meals at the standard ward level.

Insured out-patient services include medically required: laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures; use of radiotherapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy facilities, where available; use of diet counselling services; use of the operating room, anaesthetic facilities; surgical supplies; necessary nursing service; and the supply of drugs, biologicals, and related preparations when out-patient hospitalization is medically necessary for administration, including vaccines, anti-cancer drugs, biologicals and related preparations (subject to some exceptions) when hospital services are medically necessary for administration; provision of equipment, supplies and medication to haemophiliac patients for use at home; and certain drugs.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

Insured physician services are prescribed under the Health Insurance Act and regulations under the Act.

Under subsection 37.1(1) of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act, a service provided by a physician in Ontario is an insured service if it is medically necessary; contained in the Schedule of Benefits - Physician Services; and rendered in such circumstances or under such conditions as outlined in the Schedule of Benefits. Physicians provide medical, surgical and diagnostic services, including primary health care services. Services are provided in a variety of settings, including: private physician offices, community health centres, hospitals, mental health facilities, licensed independent health facilities, and long-term care homes.

In general terms, insured physician services include: diagnosis and treatment of medical disabilities and conditions; medical examinations and tests; surgical procedures; maternity care; anaesthesia; radiology and laboratory services in approved facilities; and immunizations, injections and tests.

The Schedule of Benefits is regularly reviewed and revised to reflect current medical practice and new technologies. New services may be added, existing services revised, or obsolete services removed through regulatory amendment. This process involves consultation with the Ontario Medical Association.

During 2009-2010, physicians could submit claims for all insured services rendered to insured persons directly to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), in accordance with section 15 of the Health Insurance Act, or a limited number could bill the insured person, as permitted by section 15.2 of the Act (see also Part II of the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act). Physicians who do not bill OHIP directly are commonly referred to as having "opted out." When a physician has opted out, the physician bills the patient (not exceeding the amount payable for the service under the Schedule of Benefits), and the patient is then entitled to reimbursement by OHIP. However, the number of physicians who may opt out was fixed (on a "grandparented" basis) following proclamation of the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act on September 23, 2004.

Physicians must be registered to practice medicine in Ontario by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

There were approximately 25,166 physicians who submitted claims to OHIP in 2009-2010. This figure includes physicians submitting both fee-for-service claims and physicians included in an alternative payment plan who submitted tracking or shadowbilled claims.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Certain surgical-dental services are prescribed as insured services in section 16 of Regulation 552 in the Health Insurance Act and the Dental Schedule of Benefits. The Health Insurance Act authorizes OHIP to cover a limited number of procedures when the insured services are medically necessary and are performed in a public hospital graded under the Public Hospitals Act as Group A, B, C or D by a dental surgeon who has been appointed to the dental staff of the public hospital.

Insured surgical-dental services were provided by 277 dentists and dental/oral surgeons in Ontario in 2009-2010.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Uninsured hospital services include: preferred accommodation unless prescribed by a physician, oral-maxillofacial surgeon or midwife; telephones and televisions; charges for private-duty nursing; provision of medications for patients to take home from hospital, with prescribed exceptions; and in-province, out-patient hospital visits solely for administering drugs, for which out-patient hospital admission is not medically necessary.

Section 24 of Regulation 552 details those physician and supporting services that are not insured services.

Uninsured physician services include, among others: services that are not medically necessary; the preparation or provision of a drug, antigen, antiserum or other substance, unless the drug, antigen or antiserum is used to facilitate a procedure or examination; advice given by telephone at the request of the insured person or the person's representative; an interview or case conference (in limited circumstances); the preparation and transfer of records at the insured person's request with exceptions; a service that is received wholly or partly for producing or completing a document or transmitting information to a "third party" in prescribed circumstances; the production or completion of a document or transmitting information to any person other than the insured person in prescribed circumstances; provision of a prescription when no concomitant insured service is rendered; acupuncture procedures; psychological testing; research and survey programs; experimental treatment; and toll charges for long-distance telephone calls.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act specifies the eligibility criteria for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage.

To be considered a resident of Ontario for the purpose of obtaining Ontario health insurance coverage generally speaking, a person must:

  • hold Canadian citizenship or an immigration status as prescribed in Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act;
  • make his or her primary place of residence in Ontario;
  • subject to some limited exceptions, be physically present in Ontario for at least 153 days in any 12-month period subject to some limited exceptions; and
  • for most new and returning residents, be physically present in Ontario for 153 of the first 183 days following the date residence is established in Ontario (i.e., a person cannot be away from the province for more than 30 days in the first six months of residency).

Individuals who are not eligible for OHIP coverage are those who do not meet the definition of a resident, including those who do not hold an immigration status that is set out in Regulation 552, such as tourists, transients, and visitors to the province. Other individuals such as federal penitentiary inmates, Canadian Forces members and ranked Royal Canadian Mounted Police personnel do not require Ontario health insurance coverage as their health services are covered under a federal health care plan.

Persons who were previously ineligible for Ontario health insurance coverage but whose status and/ or residency situation has changed, e.g., change in immigration status, may be eligible upon application and subject to the requirements of Regulation 552.

When it is determined that a person is not eligible or is no longer eligible for OHIP coverage, a request may be made to MOHLTC to review the decision. Anyone may request that the Ministry review the denial of their OHIP eligibility by making a request in writing to the OHIP Eligibility Review Committee.

MOHLTC is the sole payer for OHIP insured physician, hospital, and dental-surgical services. An eligible Ontario resident may not register with or obtain any benefits from another insurance plan for the cost of any insured service that is covered by OHIP with the exception of during a waiting period.

Approximately 13 million Ontario residents were registered with OHIP and held valid and active health cards as of March 31, 2010.

3.2 Other Categories of Individual

MOHLTC provides health insurance coverage to residents of Ontario other than Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents/Landed Immigrants. These residents are required to provide acceptable documentation to support their eligible immigration status, their residence in Ontario, and their identity in the same manner as Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident/Landed Immigrant applicants.

The individuals listed below who are resident in Ontario may be eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage in accordance with Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act. Clients who apply for coverage under any of these categories should contact their local ServiceOntario Centre for further details.

Applicants for Permanent Residence/Applicants for Landing: These are persons who have submitted an application for Permanent Resident/Landed Immigrant status to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) which has not yet been approved and provided that CIC has confirmed that the person meets the eligibility requirements to apply for permanent residency in Canada and that the application has not yet been denied.

Protected Persons: These are persons who are determined to be Protected Persons under the terms of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Members of this group are exempt from the three-month waiting period.

Holders of Temporary Resident Permits/Minister's Permits: A Temporary Resident Permit/Minister's Permit is issued to an individual by CIC when there are compelling reasons to admit an individual into Canada who would otherwise be inadmissible under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Each Temporary Resident Permit/Minister's Permit has a case type or numerical designation on the permit that indicates the circumstances allowing the individual entry into Canada. Individuals who hold a permit with a case type of 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95 or 80 (if for adoption) are eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage. Individuals who hold a permit with a case type of 80 (except for adoption), 81, 84, 85 and 96 are not eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage.

Clergy, Foreign Workers and their Accompanying Family Members: An eligible foreign clergy is a person who is sponsored by a religious organization or denomination if the member has finalized an agreement to minister to a religious congregation or group in Ontario for at least six months, as long as the member is legally entitled to stay in Canada.

A foreign worker is eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage if the individual has been issued a Work Permit/ Employment Authorization or other document by CIC that permits the person to work in Canada if the person also has a formal agreement in place to work full-time for an employer in Ontario. The work permit/other document issued by CIC, or a letter provided by the employer, must set out the employer's name, state the person's occupation with the employer, and state that the person will be working for the employer for no less than six consecutive months.

A spouse and/or dependant child (under 22 years of age; or 22 years of age or older, if dependent due to a mental or physical disability) of an eligible foreign member of the clergy or an eligible foreign worker is also eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage as long as the spouse or dependant is legally entitled to stay in Canada.

Live-in Caregivers: Eligible live-in caregivers are persons who hold a valid Work Permit/Employment Authorization under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) administered by CIC. The Work Permit/ Employment Authorization for LCP workers does not have to list the three specific employment conditions required by all other foreign workers.

Applicants for Canadian Citizenship: These individuals are eligible for Ontario health coverage if they have submitted an application for Canadian citizenship under Section 5.1 of the federal Citizenship Act, even if the application has not yet been approved, provided that CIC has confirmed that the person meets the eligibility requirements to apply for citizenship under that section and the application has not yet been denied.

Migrant Farm Workers: Migrant farm workers are persons who have been issued a Work Permit/Employment Authorization under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program administered by CIC. Due to the special nature of their employment, migrant farm workers are deemed resident (may be resident for less than the required five month period and not have a primary place of residence in Ontario) and are exempt from the three-month waiting period and still qualify for OHIP.

Children Born Out-of-country: A child born to an OHIP-eligible woman who left Ontario to receive insured services that were pre-approved for payment by OHIP is eligible for immediate OHIP coverage provided that the mother was pregnant at the time of departure from Ontario.

Internationally Adopted Children: Children under 16 who are adopted by Ontario residents are eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage, provided the child has an OHIP-eligible citizenship/immigration status and meets the other residency requirements as set out in Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act. Additionally, these children may be exempt from the three-month waiting period if the adoption meets the requirements set out in Regulation 552.

3.3 Premiums

No premiums are required to obtain Ontario health insurance coverage. The Ontario Health Premium is collected through the provincial income tax system and is not connected to OHIP registration or eligibility in any way. Responsibility for the administration of the Ontario Health Premium lies with the Ontario Ministry of Finance.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

In accordance with section 5 of Regulation 552 under the Health Insurance Act, individuals who move to Ontario are typically entitled to Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage three months after establishing residency in the province unless listed as an exception in section 6 of the Regulation, or section 11(2.1) of the Health Insurance Act.

In accordance with section 5 of Regulation 552 under the Health Insurance Act and as provided for in the Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability, persons who permanently move to Ontario from another Canadian province or territory will typically be eligible for OHIP coverage after the last day of the second full month following the date residency is established.

Assessment of whether or not an individual is subject to the three-month waiting period occurs at the time of their application for health insurance coverage. Examples of those who are exempt from the three-month waiting period include newborn babies, eligible military family members, and insured residents from another province or territory who move to Ontario and immediately become residents of an approved long-term care home in Ontario.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

Insured out-of-province services are prescribed under sections 28, 28.0.1, and 29 to 32 of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act.

Ontario adheres to the terms of the Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability; therefore, insured residents who are temporarily outside of Ontario can use their Ontario health cards to obtain insured physician (except in Quebec) and hospital services.

An insured person who leaves Ontario temporarily to travel within Canada, without establishing residency in another province or territory, may continue to be covered by OHIP for a period of up to 12 months.

An insured person who seeks or accepts employment in another province or territory may continue to be covered by OHIP for a period of up to 12 months. If the individual plans to remain outside Ontario beyond the 12-month maximum, he or she should apply for coverage in the province or territory where that person has been working or seeking work.

Insured students who are temporarily absent from Ontario, but remain within Canada, may be eligible for continuous health insurance coverage for the duration of their full-time studies, provided they do not establish permanent residency elsewhere during this period. To ensure that they maintain continuous OHIP eligibility, a student should provide MOHLTC with documentation from their educational institution confirming registration as a full-time student. Family members (spouses and dependent children) of students who are studying in another province or territory are also eligible for continuous OHIP eligibility while accompanying students for the duration of their studies.

In accordance with Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act, most insured residents who want to travel, work or study outside Ontario, but within Canada, and maintain OHIP coverage, must have resided in Ontario for at least 153 days in the last 12-month period immediately prior to departure from Ontario.

Ontario participates in Reciprocal Hospital Billing Agreements with all other provinces and territories for insured in-patient and out-patient hospital services. Payment is at the in-patient rate of the plan in the province or territory where hospitalization occurs.

Ontario pays the standard out-patient charges authorized by the Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee. Ontario also participates in the Physicians' Reciprocal Billing Agreements with all other provinces and territories, except Quebec (which has not signed a reciprocal agreement with any other province or territory), for insured physician services. Ontario residents who may be required to pay for physician services received in Quebec can submit their receipts to MOHLTC for payment as an insured service at Ontario rates.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

Health insurance coverage for insured Ontario residents during extended absences outside Canada is governed by sections 1.7 through 1.14 inclusive of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act.

In accordance with the above noted sections of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act, MOHLTC provides insured Ontario residents with continuous Ontario health insurance coverage during absences outside Canada of longer than 212 days (seven months) in a 12-month period.

The Ministry requests that residents apply to MOHLTC for this coverage before their departure and provide documents explaining the reason for their absence outside Canada. In accordance with the regulations and MOHLTC policy, most applicants must also have been resident in Ontario for at least 153 days in each of the two consecutive 12-month periods before their expected date of departure.

The length of time that MOHLTC will provide a person with continuous Ontario health insurance coverage during an extended absence outside Canada varies depending on the reason for the absence. Please refer to the information below for further details:

Reason OHIP Coverage
Study Duration of a full time academic program in an educational institution (unlimited)
Work Up to five 1-year periods (continuous or separate)
Charitable Worker Up to five 1-year periods (continuous or separate)
Vacation/Other Up to two 1-year periods (continuous or separate)

Certain family members may also qualify for continuous Ontario health insurance coverage while accompanying the primary applicant on an extended absence outside Canada.

Out-of-country services are covered under sections 28.1 to 28.6 inclusive, and sections 29 and 31 of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act.

Out-of-country emergency hospital costs are reimbursed at Ontario fixed per diem rates of:

  • a maximum $400 (CAD) for in-patient services;
  • a maximum $50 (CAD) for out-patient services (except dialysis); and
  • a maximum of $210 (CAD) for out-patient services including renal dialysis.

During 2009-2010, emergency medically necessary out-of-country physician services were reimbursed at the Ontario rates detailed in regulation under the Health Insurance Act or the amount billed, whichever is less. Charges for medically necessary emergency or out-of-country in-patient and out-patient services are reimbursed only when rendered in an eligible hospital or health facility. Medically necessary out-of-country laboratory services, when done on an emergency basis by a physician, are reimbursed in accordance with the formula set out in section 29(1)(b) of the Regulation or the amount billed, whichever is less, and when done on an emergency basis by a laboratory, in accordance with the formula set out in section 31 of the Regulation.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

As set out in section 28.4 of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act, written approval from MOHLTC is required for payment for non-emergency health services provided outside of Canada prior to the medical services being rendered. Where identical or equivalent treatment is not performed in Ontario, or in those instances where the patient faces a delay in accessing treatment in Ontario that would threaten the patient's life or cause medically-significant irreversible tissue damage, the patient may be entitled to full funding for out-of-country insured health services.

Generally speaking, Ministry funding is provided if the prior approval application establishes that the services or tests are:

  • medically necessary;
  • not performed in Ontario or the identical or equivalent service is performed in Ontario but it is necessary that the insured person travel out of Canada to avoid a delay that would result in death or medically significant irreversible tissue damage;
  • generally accepted by the medical profession in Ontario as appropriate for a person in the same circumstances as the insured person;
  • not experimental;
  • not performed for research purposes or survey; and
  • written prior approval of payment is granted by the General Manager before the services are rendered.

Funding requirements for non-emergency laboratory tests performed outside Canada are described in section 28.5 of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act.

There is no formal prior approval process required for services provided to eligible Ontario residents outside the province, but within Canada, if the insured service is covered under the Reciprocal Hospital Billing Agreements.

Costs associated with all uninsured or experimental devices and drugs that are approved for clinical use are the responsibility of the patient, or the patient must have prior approval from their home province. As detailed above in section 4.2, Regulation 552 and the Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability ensure that Ontario residents who are temporarily travelling, working or studying in another province continue to be eligible for Ontario health coverage.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

All insured hospital, physician and surgical-dental services are available to Ontario residents on uniform terms and conditions.

All insured persons are entitled to all insured physician, surgical-dental and hospital services, as defined in the Health Insurance Act and regulations.

Access to insured services is protected under Part II of the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act (CFMA), "Health Services Accessibility." The Act prohibits any person or any entity from charging or accepting payment or other benefit for rendering an insured service to an insured person except as permitted in the Act for opted-out physicians. In addition, the CFMA prohibits physicians, practitioners and hospitals from refusing to provide an insured service if an insured person chooses not to pay a "block fee" for an uninsured service. The Act further prohibits any person or entity from paying, conferring or receiving a payment or other benefit in exchange for preferred access to an insured service.

MOHLTC investigates all possible contraventions of Part II of the CFMA that come to its attention. For situations in which it is found that a patient has been extra-billed, the Ministry ensures that the amount is repaid to that patient.

MOHLTC implemented Health Number/Card Validation to aid health care providers and patients with access to the information requested for OHIP and claims payment. Providers may subscribe for validation privileges to verify patient eligibility and health number/version code status (card status). If patients require access to insured services and do not have a health card in their possession, the provider may obtain the necessary information by submitting to the ministry a Health Number Release Form signed by the patient. An accelerated process for providers to obtain patient health numbers is also provided by ServiceOntario 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Health Number Look Up service.

Public hospitals in Ontario are not permitted to refuse the admission of a patient if by refusal of admission the patient's life would be endangered.

Acute care priority services are designated highly specialized hospital-based services that deal with life-threatening conditions. These services are often high-cost and are rapidly growing, which has made access a concern. Generally, these services are managed provincially, on a time-limited basis.

Acute care priority services include:

  • selected cardiovascular services;
  • selected cancer services;
  • chronic kidney disease;
  • critical care services; and
  • organ and tissue donation and organ transplantation.

During 2009-2010, MOHLTC continued to administer the following initiatives in order to improve access to health care services:

On March 5th, 2010 the Ministry announced the creation of two new initiatives: the HealthForceOntario Northern and Rural Recruitment and Retention (NRRR) Initiative was launched April 1st, to better support the recruitment and retention of physicians in rural and northern communities; and the new HealthForceOntario Postgraduate Return of Service (ROS) Program was announced to help improve access to physician resources province-wide.

The NRRR Initiative provides grants to physicians and new physician graduates who agree to practice in a northern or highly rural community (with a Rurality Index for Ontario (RIO) score of 40 or more) or in one of the five major northern urban referral centres (Thunder Bay, Sudbury, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins). Eligibility of communities for the incentives is now based on an objective, stable rurality index measure known as the RIO. RIO scores are based on population (count and density), travel time to a centre offering physician care, and travel time to a centre that offers advanced specialty care. This will help attract more physicians and new physician graduates to highly rural and northern communities.

The Postgraduate ROS Program will help improve access to physician resources province-wide. This new program permits all communities in Ontario (with the exception of the Toronto area and the City of Ottawa) to recruit physicians who have return of service obligations linked to postgraduate training.

Northern Health Travel Grant (NHTG) Program: The NHTG helps defray travel-related costs for residents of northern Ontario who must travel long distances to access OHIP insured hospital designated health facility procedures and medical specialist services that are not locally available, and also promotes using specialist services located in northern Ontario, which encourages more specialists to practice and remain in the north.

Primary Health Care: During 2009-2010, Ontario continued to align its new and existing primary care delivery models to help improve and expand access to primary health care physician services for all Ontarians. The various primary health care physician compensation models encourage access to comprehensive primary care services for Ontario as a whole, as well as for targeted population groups and remote underserviced communities.

5.2 Physician Compensation and Dental-Surgical Services

Physicians are paid for the services they provide through a number of mechanisms. Some physician payments are provided through fee-for-service arrangements. Remuneration is based on the Schedule of Benefits under the Health Insurance Act. Other physician payment models include Primary Care Models (such as blended capitation models), Alternate Payment Plans and new funding arrangements for physicians in Academic Health Science Centres.

General practitioners paid solely on a fee-for-service basis represent 33 per cent of Ontario's registered general practitioners. The remaining family physicians in Ontario receive funding through one of the primary care initiatives such as Family Health Organizations (FHO), Family Health Networks (FHN), Family Health Groups, Comprehensive Care Models, and Blended Salary Model - Family Health Team (FHT). FHT build upon existing primary care physician funded models by providing funding for inter-disciplinary health care professionals, who work as integral members of the team. Physicians participating in FHT are funded by one of three compensation options that include: Blended Capitation (such as FHN or FHO), Complement Based Models (Rural and Northern Physician Group Agreement or other specialized model agreements) and Blended Salary Model (for community-sponsored FHTs).

MOHLTC negotiates physician funding with the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). A four year Physician Services Agreement, from April 2008 to March 31, 2012 was reached in October 2008. The 2008 Physician Services Agreement centers on delivering on two key government priorities - access to family health care and reducing congestion in emergency departments. The Agreement does not provide for any across-the-board fee increases. Increases in specific fee codes will be implemented to address Ministry priorities and income relativity between OMA sections. The fee code revisions will be achieved through annual investment in the Schedule of Benefits, with 5% in the second year, 3% in the third year and 4.25% in the fourth year.

The Agreement also includes investments in recruitment and retention initiatives and in northern/rural programs to support stabilizing physician human resources as well as investments in other ministry priority areas, such as mental health, diagnostic services and care of the elderly. Additionally, through the Agreement, $100 million in performance based funding is provided for a new Local Health Integration Network (LHIN)-Physician Collaboration Incentive Fund. The fund will recognize and reward the local efforts of physician groups who work together and in collaboration with other service providers to support the needs of patients in four key areas: Most Responsible Physician, Emergency Department, Unattached Patients, and Hospital On-Call Coverage.

With respect to insured surgical-dental services, MOHLTC negotiates changes to the Schedule of Benefits for Dental Services with the Ontario Dental Association. In 2002-2003, MOHLTC and the Ontario Dental Association agreed on a multi-year funding agreement for dental services, which became effective on April 1, 2003, and continues to be in effect.

5.3 Payments to Hospitals

The Ontario budget system is a prospective reimbursement system that reflects the effects of workload increases, costs related to provincial priority services, wait time strategies, and cost increases in respect of above-average growth in the volume of service in specific geographic locations. Payments are made to hospitals on a semi-monthly basis.

When they assumed responsibility for their local health care systems, LHINs negotiated two-year Hospital Service Accountability Agreements (HSAAs) with the hospitals and are the lead for the Hospital Annual Planning Submissions (HAPS), which are the precursors to the HSAAs. Payments to hospitals have traditionally been based on historical global allocations and multiyear incremental increases that incorporate population growth and anticipated service demands within the available provincial budget.

Public hospitals submit HAPS to the LHINs that are the result of broad consultations within the facilities (e.g., all levels of staff, unions, physicians and board) and within the community and region. HAPS are based on a multi-year budget and provide a corresponding multiyear planning forecast. The data submitted in the HAPS are used to populate schedules for service volumes and performance targets that form the contractual basis for the HSAA.

The HSAA outlines the terms and conditions of the services provided by the hospital, the funding it will receive, the performance expected, the service levels for core services and specialty programs. There are various performance indicators that are monitored, managed and evaluated in the agreement. These performance indicators strive to describe the hospitals:

  • Organizational health (e.g., percentage of full-time nurses, sick time)
  • Financial health (e.g., current ratio, total margin)
  • Patient access & outcomes (e.g., global volumes, i.e., minimum volumes expected for ER, rehabilitation, mental health, total acute care, wait time volumes for MRI, CT, cancer surgery, hip and knee surgery, etc.)
  • System integration (e.g., alternative level of care days)

All the indicators have a performance standard and target that are designed to incentivise the hospital to move in a particular direction within the sector. The targets and performance corridors are negotiated yearly while taking into consideration the overall performance and contribution of the hospital to the larger system. Where particular indicators are outside of corridor and presenting a risk, the hospital and LHIN develop a Performance Improvement Plan to get the hospital back on track to achieving its targets.

The Interprovincial Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreements are a convenient administrative arrangement in which provincial/territorial governments reimburse hospitals in their jurisdictions for insured services provided to patients from other provinces/ territories.

MOHLTC reviews chronic care co-payment regulations and rates annually, accounting for changes in the Consumer Price Index and Old Age Security, and determines whether revisions to the regulations and rates are appropriate.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

The Government of Ontario publicly acknowledged the federal contributions provided through the Canada Health Transfer in its 2009-2010 publications.

Registered Persons
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 12,500,0002 12,600,0002 12,700,0002 12,800,0002 12,900,0002
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
2. Number (#). 1523 1503 1503 1493 1493
3. Payments for insured health services ($). 12,300,000,0004 13,000,000,0004 13,600,000,0004 14,200,000,0004 14,800,000,0004
Private For-Profit Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#). not available5 not available5 not available5 not available5 not available5
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($). not available5 not available5 not available5 not available5 not available5
Insured Hospital Services Provided to residents in another province or territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 8,374 8,037 7,130 9,457 8,185
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 54,000,000 49,870,000 45,712,000 65,183,888 64,688,077
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 174,848 139,036 166,373 161,193 138,594
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 29,100,000 25,576,000 31,052,000 38,030,901 36,399,952
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 23,845 20,800 24,327 21,869 28,223
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 66,916,271 76,828,432 113,663,332 136,036,532 91,456,638
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). not available6 not available6 not available6 not available6 not available6
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). not available7 not available7 not available7 not available7 not available7
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
14. Number of participating physicians (#). 22,234 23,201 23,859 24,411 25,166
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#). 51 49 40 39 35
16. Number of non-participating physicians (#). not available8 not available8 not available8 not available8 not available8
17. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods ($). 7,072,813,0009 7,791,581,9669 8,410,478,0009 9,324,794,0009 10,033,761,0009
18. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service ($). 5,312,085,618 5,642,049,000 5,962,775,787 6,528,353,572 6,812,333,798
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
19. Number of services (#). 573,830 627,375 759,570 683,377 596,430
20. Total payments ($). 21,164,600 23,754,500 25,180,900 26,471,536 26,204,597
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 200,723 182,693 211,323 247,741 216,715
22. Total payments ($). 13,211,381 19,351,944 37,901,297 54,780,594 41,652,064
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 330 316 317 291 277
24. Number of services provided (#). 87,111 92,264 91,540 99,212 99,427
25. Total payments ($). 12,546,397 14,229,896 13,423,384 13,916,464 14,324,505

1. A complete list of hospital services is available under the Health Insurance Act, Reg. 552, s.7-11.
2. These estimates represent the number of Valid and Active Health Cards (have current eligibility and resident has incurred a claims in the last 7 years).
3. Number represents all publicly funded hospitals excluding specialty psychiatric hospitals. Specialty psychiatric hospitals are excluded in order to conform to 2009/10 CHAAR reporting guide. Prior year numbers were restated to exclude specialty psychiatric hospitals in order to align them to 2009/10 reporting.
4. Amount represents funding for all public hospitals excluding specialty psychiatric hospitals. In order to conform to the reporting change for 2009/10 in Line 2 above and for consistency purposes, prior year funding numbers were restated to exclude specialty psychiatric hospitals.
5. Data are not collected in a single system in MOHLTC. Further, the MOHLTC is unable to categorize providers/facilities as "for-profit" as MOHLTC does not have financial statements detailing service providers' disbursement of revenues from the Ministry.
6. Included in #10.
7. Included in #11.
8. Ontario has no non-participating physicians, only opted-out physicians who are reported under item #15.
9. Total Payments includes payments made to Ontario physicians through Fee-for-Service, Primary Care, Alternate Payment Programs, and Academic Health Science Centres and the Hospital On Call Program. Services and payments related to Other Practitioner Programs, Out-of-Country/Out-of-Province Programs, and Community Labs are excluded.

Manitoba

Introduction

Manitoba Health provides leadership and support to protect, promote and preserve the health of all Manitobans. The roles and responsibilities of the Department include policy, program and standards development, fiscal and program accountability, and evaluation. In addition, specific direct services continue to be provided in the areas of mental health, diagnostics/laboratory, tuberculosis prevention and control, and public health inspection.

Manitoba Health remains committed to the principles of Medicare and improving the health status of all Manitobans. In support of these commitments, a number of activities were initiated in 2009-2010:

  • The pandemic H1N1 flu virus first appeared in Mexico in March 2009 and spread around the globe. In April 2009, an incident command team was put together to ensure a consistent approach across the health sector during the pandemic.
    • This team worked with the federal government, other provincial government departments, regional health authorities, First Nations organizations and organized labour.
    • Given the extremely large scale of the response, Manitoba Health will be able to take the lessons learned and the structures that were developed and apply them to future emergency response actions, such as flood or forest fire, as well as future seasonal flu campaigns.
  • In 2009-2010, Manitoba Health funded and co-ordinated 16 primary and specialty clinics to successfully complete the Advanced Access training, enabling them to offer patients same-day access to a primary care provider and five-day access to a specialist. Phase 2 of the program has been to train an additional 14 primary and specialty clinics.
  • The Patient Access Registry Tool was established in January 2010, and is being rolled out as an electronic booking request and wait-time/ wait list management system. The tool has been implemented in 15% of surgeon and medical specialist offices, including offices in the Winnipeg, Burntwood, Central and Assiniboine regions.
  • Investments continue to support the education, recruitment and retention of health care professionals.
  • New drugs for the treatment of HIV, wet macular degeneration, schizophrenia, and serious middle-ear infections were approved for coverage under the province's Pharmacare program.
  • Action was taken to address important acute care needs, such as increasing the number of dialysis seats and purchasing new and replacement diagnostic equipment for facilities across the province.

Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

The Manitoba Health Services Insurance Plan (MHSIP) is administered by the Department of Health under the Health Services Insurance Act, R.S.M. 1987, c. H35.

The MHSIP is administered under this Act for insurance in respect of the costs of hospital, personal care, and medical and other health services referred to in acts of the Legislature or regulations thereunder.

The Minister of Health is responsible for administering and operating the Plan.

The Minister may also enter into contracts and agreements with any person or group that he or she considers necessary for the purposes of the Act. The Minister may also make grants to any person or group for the purposes of the Act on such terms and conditions that are considered advisable. Also, the Minister may, in writing, delegate to any person any power, authority, duty or function conferred or imposed upon the Minister under the Act or under the regulations.

There were no legislative amendments to the Act or the regulations in the 2009-2010 fiscal year that affected the public administration of the Plan.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

Section 6 of the Health Services Insurance Act requires the Minister to have audited financial statements of the Plan showing separately the expenditures for hospital services, medical services and other health services. The Minister is required to prepare an annual report, which must include the audited financial statements, and to table the report before the Legislative Assembly within 15 days of receiving it, if the Assembly is in session. If the Assembly is not in session, the report must be tabled within 15 days of the beginning of the next session.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

Section 7 of the Health Services Insurance Act requires that the Office of the Auditor General of Manitoba (or another auditor designated by the Office of the Auditor General of Manitoba) audit the accounts of the Plan annually and prepare a report on that audit for the Minister. The most recent audit reported to the Minister and available to the public is for the 2009-2010 fiscal year and is contained in the  Manitoba Health and Healthy Living Annual Report, 2009-2010. It is available at http://www.gov.mb.ca/health/ann/index.html.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Sections 46 and 47 of Health Services Insurance Act, as well as the Hospital Services Insurance and Administration Regulation (M.R. 48/93), provide for insured hospital services.

As of March 31, 2010, there were 96 facilities providing insured hospital services to both in- and out-patients. Hospitals are designated by the Hospitals Designation Regulation (M.R. 47/93) under the Act.

Services specified by the Regulation as insured in- and out-patient hospital services include: accommodation and meals at the standard ward level; necessary nursing services; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures; drugs, biologics and related preparations; routine medical and surgical supplies; use of operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities; and use of radiotherapy, physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapy facilities, where available.

All hospital services are added to the list of available hospital services through the health planning process. Manitoba residents maintain high expectations for quality health care and insist that the best available medical knowledge and service be applied to their personal health situations. Manitoba Health is sensitive to new developments in the health sciences.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The enabling legislation that provides for insured physician services is the Medical Services Insurance Regulation (M.R. 49/93) made under the Health Services Insurance Act.

Physicians providing insured services in Manitoba must be lawfully entitled to practise medicine in Manitoba, and be registered and licensed under the Medical Act. As of March 31, 2010, there were 2,121 participating physicians in Manitoba.

A physician, by giving notice to the Minister in writing, may elect to collect the fees for medical services rendered to insured persons other than from the Minister, in accordance with section 91 of the Act and section 5 of the Medical Services Insurance Regulation. The election to opt out of the health insurance plan takes effect on the first day of the month following a 90-day period from the date the Minister receives the notice.

Before rendering a medical service to an insured person, physicians must give the patient reasonable notice that they propose to collect any fee for the medical service from them or any other person except the Minister. The physician is responsible for submitting a claim to the Minister on the patient's behalf and cannot collect fees in excess of the benefits payable for the service under the Act or regulations. To date, no physicians have opted out of the medical plan in Manitoba.

The range of physician services insured by Manitoba Health is listed in the Payment for Insured Medical Services Regulation (M.R. 95/96). Coverage is provided for all medically required personal health care services that are not excluded under the Excluded Services Regulation (M.R. 46/93) of the Act, rendered to an insured person by a physician.

During fiscal year 2009-2010, a number of new insured services were added to a revised fee schedule. The  Physician's Manual can be viewed on-line at: http://www.gov.mb.ca/health/manual/index.html

In order for a physician's service to be added to the list of those covered by Manitoba Health, physicians must put forward a proposal to their specific section of Doctors Manitoba (DMb). The DMb will negotiate the item, including the fee, with Manitoba Health. Manitoba Health may also initiate this process.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Insured surgical and dental services are listed in the Hospital Services Insurance and Administration Regulation (M.R. 48/93) under the Health Services Insurance Act. Surgical services are insured when performed by a certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon or a licensed dentist in a hospital, when hospitalization is required for the proper performance of the procedure. This Regulation also provides benefits relating to the cost of insured orthodontic services in cases of cleft lip and/or palate for persons registered under the program by their 18th birthday, when provided by a registered orthodontist.

Providers of dental services may elect to collect their fees directly from the patient in the same manner as physicians and may not charge to or collect from an insured person a fee in excess of the benefits payable under the Act or regulations. No providers of dental services had opted out as of March 31, 2010.

In order for a dental service to be added to the list of insured services, a dentist must put forward a proposal to the Manitoba Dental Association (MDA). The MDA will negotiate the fee with Manitoba Health.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

The Excluded Services Regulation (M.R. 46/93) made under the Health Services Insurance Act sets out those services that are not insured. These include: examinations and reports for reasons of employment, insurance, attendance at university or camp, or performed at the request of third parties; group immunization or other group services except where authorized by Manitoba Health; services provided by a physician, dentist, chiropractor or optometrist to him or herself or any dependants; preparation of records, reports, certificates, communications and testimony in court; mileage or travelling time; services provided by psychologists, chiropodists and other practitioners not provided for in the legislation; in vitro fertilization; tattoo removal; contact lens fitting; reversal of sterilization procedures; and psychoanalysis.

The Hospital Services Insurance and Administration Regulation states that hospital in-patient services include routine medical and surgical supplies, thereby ensuring reasonable access for all residents. The regional health authorities and Manitoba Health monitor compliance.

All Manitoba residents have equal access to services. Third parties such as private insurers or the Workers Compensation Board do not receive priority access to services through additional payment. Manitoba has no formalized process to monitor compliance; however, feedback from physicians, hospital administrators, medical professionals and staff allows regional health authorities and Manitoba Health to monitor usage and service concerns.

To de-insure services covered by Manitoba Health, the Ministry prepares a submission for approval by Cabinet. The need for public consultation is determined on an individual basis depending on the subject.

No services were removed from the list of those insured by Manitoba Health in 2009-2010.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

The Health Services Insurance Act defines the eligibility of Manitoba residents for coverage under the provincial health care insurance plan. Section 2(1) of the Act states that a resident is a person who is legally entitled to be in Canada, makes his or her home in Manitoba, is physically present in Manitoba for at least six months in a calendar year, and includes any other person classified as a resident in the regulations, but does not include a person who holds a temporary resident permit under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada), unless the Minister determines otherwise, or is a visitor, transient or tourist.

The Residency and Registration Regulation (M.R. 54/93) extends the definition of residency. The extensions are found in sections 7(1) and 8(1). Section 7(1) allows missionaries, individuals with out-of country employment and individuals undertaking sabbatical leave to be outside Manitoba for up to two years while still remaining residents of Manitoba. Students are deemed to be Manitoba residents while in full-time attendance at an accredited educational institution. Section 8(1) extends residency to individuals who are legally entitled to work in Manitoba and have a work permit of 12 months or more.

The Residency and Registration Regulation, section 6, defines Manitoba's waiting period as follows:

"A resident who was a resident of another Canadian province or territory immediately before his or her arrival in Manitoba is not entitled to benefits until the first day of the third month following the month of arrival."

There are currently no other waiting periods in Manitoba.

The Manitoba Health Services Insurance Plan (MHSIP) excludes residents covered under the following federal statutes: Aeronautics Act; Civilian War-related Benefits Act; Government Employees Compensation Act; Merchant Seaman Compensation Act; National Defence Act; Pension Act; Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act; Veteran's Rehabilitation Act; or under legislation of any other jurisdiction (Excluded Services Regulations subsection 2(2)). The excluded are residents who are members of the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and federal inmates. These residents become eligible for Manitoba Health coverage upon discharge from the Canadian Forces, the RCMP, or if an inmate of a penitentiary has no resident dependants. Upon change of status, these persons have one month to register with Manitoba Health (Residency and Registration Regulation (M.R. 54/93, subsection 2(3)).

The process of issuing health insurance cards requires that individuals inform and provide documentation to Manitoba Health that they are legally entitled to be in Canada, and that they intend to be physically present in Manitoba for six consecutive months. They must also provide a primary residence address in Manitoba. Upon receiving this information, Manitoba Health will provide a registration card for the individual and all qualifying dependants.

Manitoba has two health-related numbers. The registration number is a six-digit number assigned to an individual 18 years of age or older who is not classified as a dependant. This number is used by Manitoba Health to pay for all medical service claims for that individual and all designated dependants. A nine-digit Personal Health Identification Number (PHIN) is used for payment of all hospital services and for the provincial drug program.

As of March 31, 2010, there were 1,228,246 residents registered with the health care insurance plan.

There is no provision for a resident to opt out of the Manitoba Health Plan.

3.2 Other Categories of Individual

The Residency and Registration Regulation (M.R. 54/93, sub-section 8(1)) requires that temporary workers possess a work permit issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada for at least 12 consecutive months, be physically present in Manitoba, and be legally entitled to be in Canada before receiving Manitoba Health coverage. As of March 31, 2010, there were 6,002 individuals on work permits covered under the MHSIP. The definition of "resident" under the Health Services Insurance Act allows the Minister of Health or the Minister's designated representative to provide coverage for holders of a Minister's permit under the Immigration Act (Canada). No legislative amendments to the Act or the regulations in the 2009-2010 fiscal year affected universality.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

The Residency and Registration Regulation (M.R. 54/93, section 6) identifies the waiting period for insured persons from another province or territory. A resident who lived in another Canadian province or territory immediately before arriving in Manitoba is entitled to benefits on the first day of the third month following the month of arrival.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

The Residency and Registration Regulation (M.R. 54/93 section 7(1)) defines the rules for portability of health insurance during temporary absences in Canada.

Students are considered residents and will continue to receive health coverage for the duration of their fulltime enrolment at any accredited educational institution. The additional requirement is that they intend to return and reside in Manitoba after completing their studies. Manitoba has formal agreements with all Canadian provinces and territories for the reciprocal billing of insured hospital services. Manitoba has a bilateral agreement with the Province of Saskatchewan for Saskatchewan residents who receive care in Manitoba border communities.

In-patient costs are paid at standard rates approved by the host province or territory. Payments for inpatient, high-cost procedures and out-patient services are based on national rates agreed to by provincial or territorial health plans. These include all medically necessary services as well as costs for emergency care.

Except for Quebec, medical services incurred in all provinces or territories are paid through a reciprocal billing agreement at host province or territory rates. Claims for medical services received in Quebec are submitted by the patient or physician to Manitoba Health for payment at host province rates.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The Residency and Registration Regulation (M.R. 54/93, sub-section 7(1)) defines the rules for portability of health insurance during temporary absences from Canada.

Residents on full-time employment contracts outside Canada will receive Manitoba Health coverage for up to 24 consecutive months. Individuals must return and reside in Manitoba after completing their employment terms. Clergy serving as missionaries on behalf of a religious organization approved as a registered charity under the Income Tax Act (Canada) will be covered by Manitoba Health for up to 24 consecutive months. Students are considered residents and will continue to receive health coverage for the duration of their fulltime enrollment at an accredited educational institution. The additional requirement is that they intend to return and reside in Manitoba after completing their studies. Residents on sabbatical or educational leave from employment will be covered by Manitoba Health for up to 24 consecutive months. These individuals also must return and reside in Manitoba after completing their leave.

Coverage for all these categories is subject to amounts detailed in the Hospital Services Insurance and Administration Regulation (M.R. 48/93). Hospital services received outside Canada due to an emergency or a sudden illness, while temporarily absent, are paid as follows:

In-patient services are paid based on a per-diem rate according to hospital size:

  • 1-100 beds: $280
  • 101-500 beds: $365
  • over 500 beds: $570

Out-patient services are paid at a flat rate of $100 per visit or $215 for haemodialysis.

The calculation of these rates is complex due to the diversity of hospitals in both rural and urban areas.

Manitobans requiring medically necessary hospital services unavailable in Manitoba or elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for costs incurred in the United States by providing Manitoba Health with a recommendation from a specialist stating that the patient requires a specific, medically necessary service. Physician services received in the United States are paid at the equivalent Manitoba rate for similar services. Hospital services are paid at a minimum of 75 percent of the hospital's charges for insured services. Payment for hospital services is made in U.S. funds (the Hospital Services Insurance and Administration Regulation, sections 15-23).

In instances where Manitoba Health has given prior approval for services provided outside Canada and payment is less than 100 percent of the amount billed for insured services, Manitoba Health will consider additional funding based on financial need.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Prior approval by Manitoba Health is not required for services provided in other provinces or territories or for emergency care provided outside Canada. Prior approval is required for elective hospital and medical care provided outside Canada. An appropriate medical specialist must apply to Manitoba Health to receive approval for coverage.

No legislative amendments to the Act or the regulations in the 2009-2010 fiscal year had an effect on portability.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

Manitoba Health ensures that medical services are equitable and reasonably available to all Manitobans. Effective January 1, 1999, the Surgical Facilities Regulation (M.R. 222/98) under the Health Services Insurance Act came into force to prevent private surgical facilities from charging additional fees for insured medical services.

In July 2001, the Health Services Insurance Act, the Private Hospitals Act and the Hospitals Act were amended to strengthen and protect public access to the health care system. The amendments include:

  • changes to definitions and other provisions to ensure that no charges can be made to individuals who receive insured surgical services or to anyone else on that person's behalf; and
  • ensuring that a surgical facility cannot perform procedures requiring overnight stays and thereby function as a private hospital.

Manitoba Health has developed a number of initiatives to increase clients' access to insured services such as Advanced Access, the TeleCare initiative (chronic disease self management for congestive heart failure and diabetes), the After-Hours Call Community Network pilot (a network of general practitioners linked to patients through the 24-hour Health Links - Info Sante service).

All Manitobans have access to hospital services including acute care, psychiatric extended treatment, mental health, palliative, chronic, long-term assessment/rehabilitation, and to personal care facilities. There has been a shift in focus from hospital beds to community services, outpatients and day surgeries, which are also insured services.

Manitoba continues to have growth in the number of active practicing nurses through expansions to the nursing education programs and strategies of the Nurses Recruitment and Retention Fund (NRRF). According to the registration data received from the Colleges of Registered Nurses, Registered Psychiatric Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses, there were 16,624 active practicing nurses in Manitoba in 2009. This is a net gain of 498 more nurses than in 2008. There remain, however, ongoing nursing resource challenges in some rural and northern regions, and in specialty care areas in Winnipeg. In June 2009, Manitoba welcomed 122 nurses who were recruited from the Philippines in 2008 to address rural nursing resource needs. By March 31, 2009, 117 met all the necessary requirements and were working as registered nurses in four rural regional health authorities. Manitoba has increased nursing education seats throughout the province resulting in a more than doubling of enrolments in the last 10 years. The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's strategy, the Winnipeg Critical Care Nursing Education Program (WCNEO), was aimed at increasing the number of intensive care nurses in the province, thus reducing nursing overtime costs, and decreasing surgery cancellations and bed closures. The NRRF also contributes significantly to improving the nursing supply in Manitoba through initiatives such as relocation assistance, the Conditional Grant Program to encourage new graduates to work in rural and northern regions (outside Winnipeg and Brandon), the personal care home grant, and funding for continuing education and specialty education programs. The Extended Practice Regulation allows nurses on the register to independently prescribe drugs, order screening and diagnostic tests, and perform minor surgical and invasive procedures as set out in regulation. The number of nurses on the register has grown from 4 in June 2005 to 81 as of the December 31, 2009 registration year.

Wait time funding has been continued for additional hip and knee joint replacements at several sites in Winnipeg, as well as the Brandon Regional Health Centre and Boundary Trails Health Centre.

Prehabilitation clinics have also been established in Winnipeg, Brandon and Boundary Trails to optimize patient health prior to their joint replacement surgery, resulting in better health outcomes.

Manitoba continues to implement its provincial patient access registry to capture information on patients waiting for surgical and medical specialist services. With the support of Health Canada funding, Manitoba launched an additional two access initiatives over 2008 to 2010: the Catalogue of Specialist Services; and the Bridging General and Specialist Care e-referral initiative. Both initiatives aim to improve communication between primary care providers and consulting specialists to ensure patients access the right specialist, the first time, with the right amount of information, pre-consultation testing and primary care management, thereby reducing inefficient use of specialized resources and maximizing access to these services for those in need.

Manitoba has maintained volume increases and funding put in place through the wait times reduction fund in all original funding areas (arthroplasty, cataract surgery, MRI, CT and ultrasound testing, echocardiography, sleep lab services among others). Manitoba has also put in place targeted funding for wait time reduction and access improvement strategies in several areas including colonoscopy and head and neck cancer surgery. Manitoba continues to work with its regional health authority partners in exploring and implementing improved access models, and investigating demand management strategies, including improved appropriateness of services.

The Physician's Manual, a billing and fee guide, provides Manitoba physicians with a listing of medical services that are insured by Manitoba Health. Five main system data checks and processes within the Manitoba Health mainframe ensure that claims for insured services are processed in accordance with the Rules of Application in the Physician's Manual under the Health Services Insurance Act. Appeals under the Physician's Manual are heard by the Medical Review Committee. In addition, the Manitoba Health Appeal Board, a quasi-judicial tribunal, hears appeals if a person is not satisfied with certain decisions of Manitoba Health or is denied entitlement to a benefit under the Health Services Insurance Act.

Manitoba Health continued to support initiatives to improve access to physicians in rural and northern areas of the province.

Manitoba continues to experience increases in the number of new physicians registering with the licensing body. Manitoba has introduced greater funding flexibility to the return of service for students (for example, fourth year grants of $25,000 in return for service in a community designated by the province) by allowing return by locum (maximum 3 months per year over 4 years). The province also provides a provincial specialist fund to specialists recruited to Manitoba, in the amount of $15,000, to those candidates who have not received funds through Medical Student/Resident Financial Assistance Program. Recent announcements that further support physicians include the Physician Resettlement Fund and Physician Relief Fund. The Resettlement Fund is open to both family practitioners and specialists, and there has been significant take up of the program. Since 2001, Manitoba has supported an expansion in medical school class sizes. In 2008, the province introduced the Northern Remote Physician Practice Initiative. The initiative is a two-year family medicine residency training stream-specific to the rural/north, after which applicants must return service of 2+ years in rural/remote Manitoba, and upon completion of return of service are guaranteed a specialty residency position in Manitoba. The program has received federal support and there are 25 students in the program at this time.

Through the current assessment and training programs, foreign-trained physicians can achieve conditional licensure to practice medicine in return for agreeing to work in a sponsoring rural regional health authority. Eligible applicants for the Medical Licensure Program for International Medical Graduates may enter one year of residency training similar to family medicine residency training and upon successful completion of that training may be granted conditional licensure for primary care practice in a rural or northern community of Manitoba. Eligible applicants for the family practice assessment process leading to licensure will complete an orientation, a three day Family Practice Assessment, and a three month Clinical Field Assessment. Upon successful completion of the assessments, candidates may be recommended for conditional licensure and upon commencement of practice are linked with a physician mentor for a minimum of 12 months. The Non-Registered Specialist Assessment Program initiative assists in facilitating the assessment of physicians whose practice will be limited to a specialty field of training. Through this program, clinical assessments are organized and facilitated in order for foreign-trained physicians to meet the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (CPSM) criteria for conditional licensure.

By the end of 2009-2010, the Manitoba Telehealth Network had grown from 66 sites in 2008-2009 to 81 Telehealth sites across the province. This modern telecommunications link means patients can be seen by specialists, and that medical staff can consult with each other without having to endure the expense and inconvenience of travelling from rural or northern Manitoba to Winnipeg or a regional centre. Current information on  Manitoba Telehealth, including location of sites, is available at http://www.mbtelehealth.ca/index.php.

5.2 Physician Compensation

Manitoba continues to employ the following methods of payment for physicians: fee-for-service, contract, blended and sessional.

The Health Services Insurance Act governs remuneration to physicians for insured services. There were no amendments to the Health Services Insurance Act related to physician compensation during the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Fee-for-service remains the dominant method of payment for physician services. Notwithstanding, alternate payment arrangements constitute a significant portion of the total compensation to physicians in Manitoba. Alternate-funded physicians are those who receive non fee-for-service compensation, including through a salary (employment relationship) or those who work on an independent contract basis. Manitoba also uses blended payment methods to adjust fee-for-service income that may not be adequate to compensate for all services rendered by the physician. As well, physicians may receive sessional payments for providing medical services on a time based arrangement, as well as stipends for on-call and other responsibilities.

Manitoba Health represents Manitoba in negotiations with physicians. The physicians are typically represented by Doctors Manitoba with some notable exceptions, such as oncologists.

The current Master Agreement between Doctors Manitoba and Manitoba has an effective date from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2011.

5.3 Payments to Hospitals

Division 3.1 of Part 4 of the Regional Health Authorities Act sets out the requirements for operational agreements between regional health authorities and the operators of hospitals and personal care homes, defined as "health corporations" under the Act.

Pursuant to the provisions of this division, regional health authorities are prohibited from providing funding to a health corporation for operational purposes unless the parties have entered into a written agreement for this purpose that enables the health services to be provided by the health corporation, the funding to be provided by the regional health authority for the health services, the term of the agreement, and a dispute resolution process and remedies for breaches. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the Act enables them to request that the Minister of Health appoint a mediator to help them resolve outstanding issues. If the mediation is unsuccessful, the Minister is empowered to resolve the matter or matters in dispute. The Minister's resolution is binding on the parties.

There are three regional health authorities which have hospitals operated by health corporations in their health regions. The regional health authorities have concluded the required agreements with health corporations. The operating agreements enable the regional health authority to determine funding based on objective evidence, best practices and criteria that are commonly applied to comparable facilities. In all other regions, the hospitals are operated by the Regional Health Authorities Act. Section 23 of the Act requires that regional health authorities allocate their resources in accordance with the approved regional health plan.

The allocation of resources by regional health authorities for providing hospital services is approved by Manitoba Health through the approval of the regional health authorities' regional health plans, which the regional health authorities are required to submit for approval pursuant to section 24 of the Regional Health Authorities Act. Section 23 of the Act requires that authorities allocate their resources in accordance with the approved regional health plan.

Pursuant to subsection 50(2.1) of the Health Services Insurance Act, payments from the Medical Health Services Insurance Plan for insured hospital services are to be paid to the regional health authorities. In relation to those hospitals that are not owned and operated by a regional health authority, the regional health authority is required to pay each hospital in accordance with any agreement reached between the regional health authority and the hospital operator.

No legislative amendments to the Act or the regulations in 2009-2010 had an effect on payments to hospitals.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

Manitoba routinely recognizes the federal role regarding the contributions provided under the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) in public documents. Federal transfers are identified in the Estimates of Expenditures and Revenue (Manitoba Budget) document and in the Public Accounts of Manitoba. Both documents are published annually by the Manitoba government. In addition, Manitoba Health cites the federal contribution from the First Ministers Ten Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care (the 2004 Health Accord-Wait Time Reduction Fund) in funding letters to the regional health authorities and other organizations who are implementing programs using this funding.

Registered Persons
2005–2006
2006–2007
2007–2008
2008–2009
2009–2010
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 1,173,8151 1,178,4571 1,186,3861 1,209,4011 1,228,2461
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities
2005–2006
2006–2007
2007–2008
2008–2009
2009–2010
2. Number (#). 98 97 97 97 96
3. Payments for insured health services ($). not available not available not available not available not available
Private For-Profit Facilities
2005–2006
2006–2007
2007–2008
2008–2009
2009–2010
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#). 1 1 1 1 1
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($). 1,305,132 1,292,830 1,289,964 1,553,438 1,570,832
Insured Hospital Services Provided to residents in another province or territory
2005–2006
2006–2007
2007–2008
2008–2009
2009–2010
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 2,995 2,806 2,823 3,280 2,626
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 19,153,208 19,431,036 18,731,739 24,489,298 21,612,535
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 29,685 30,357 31,329 35,957 28,729
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 5,670,133 6,306,240 6,933,920 9,662,718 8,655,118
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 569 589 549 658 552
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 1,455,908 1,294,963 1,791,864 3,252,651 1,924,044
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 6,690 7,673 8,796 10,121 10,097
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 1,325,062 1,695,844 2,692,096 2,650,500 2,954,321
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities
2005–2006
2006–2007
2007–2008
2008–2009
2009–2010
14. Number of participating physicians (#). 2,016 1,968 2,050 2,073 2,121
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#). not applicable not applicable 0 0 0
16. Number of non-participating physicians (#). not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
17. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods ($). 653,290,519 700,465,401 721,552,291 789,101,000 843,087,000
18. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service ($). 442,485,124 438,813,332 459,573,573 476,227,782 552,890,200
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
2005–2006
2006–2007
2007–2008
2008–2009
2009–2010
19. Number of services (#). 228,090 248,900 290,775 243,881 237,192
20. Total payments ($). 8,966,703 9,997,409 9,985,987 9,721,570 10,287,990
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 6,138 6,486 6,414 7,446 6,768
22. Total payments ($). 608,524 541,403 701,829 725,382 627,563
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
2005–2006
2006–2007
2007–2008
2008–2009
2009–2010
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 115 122 120 131 135
24. Number of services provided (#). 3,863 4,205 4,616 4,833 5,950
25. Total payments ($). 936,091 984,621 1,107,357 1,175,314 1,701,655

1. The population data is based on records of residents registered with Manitoba Health as of June 1.

Saskatchewan

Introduction

Through leadership and partnership, the Ministry of Health is dedicated to achieving a responsive, integrated and efficient health care system that puts the patient first, and enables people to achieve their best possible health by promoting healthy choices and responsible self-care.

The Ministry oversees a complex, multi-faceted health care system. It establishes policy direction, sets and monitors standards, provides funding, supports regional health authorities and other agencies, and ensures the provision of essential and appropriate services. The Ministry works in partnership with organizations at the local, regional, provincial, national and international levels to ensure Saskatchewan residents have access to quality health care delivered under the Canada Health Act.

The Ministry works with a range of stakeholders to recruit and retain health care providers, including nurses and physicians, and regulates the delivery of health care. It is responsible for approximately 50 pieces of health-related legislation.

The Ministry has a dedicated workforce which provides strategic direction to the health care system and carries out a number of other activities, such as processing applications, paying bills, explaining programs and answering inquiries from the public. The Ministry is organized into 16 branches, each working to ensure that the province's health care system operates in an effective and sustainable manner while remaining accountable to the people of Saskatchewan.

The Ministry oversees a health care system that provides a range of services through a complex delivery system that includes 12 regional health authorities and the Athabasca Health Authority, the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency (SCA), affiliated health care organizations and a diverse group of professionals, many of whom are in private practice. The health system as a whole employs more than 37,000 individuals.

For more information on the Ministry's programs and services, please visit the  Ministry of Health website at: www.health.gov.sk.ca

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan And Public Authority

The provincial government is responsible for funding and ensuring the provision of insured hospital, physician and surgical-dental services in Saskatchewan. Section 6.1 of the Department of Health Act authorizes that the Minister of Health may:

  • pay part of, or the whole of, the cost of providing health services for any persons or classes of person who may be designated by the Lieutenant Governor in Council;
  • make grants or loans or provide subsidies to regional health authorities, health care organizations or municipalities for providing and operating health services or public health services;
  • pay part of, or the whole of, the cost of providing health services in any health region or part of a health region in which those services are considered by the Minister to be required;
  • make grants or provide subsidies to any health agency that the Minister considers necessary; and
  • make grants or provide subsidies to stimulate and develop public health research and to conduct surveys and studies in the area of public health.

Sections 8 and 9 of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act provide the authority for the Minister of Health to establish and administer a plan of medical care insurance for residents. The Regional Health Services Act provides the authority to establish 12 regional health authorities, replacing the former 32 district health boards.

Sections 3 and 9 of the Cancer Agency Act provide for establishing a Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and for the Agency to coordinate a program for diagnosing, preventing and treating cancer.

The mandates of the Ministry of Health, regional health authorities and the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency are outlined in the Department of Health Act, the Regional Health Services Act and the Cancer Agency Act.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The Ministry of Health is directly accountable, and regularly reports, to the Minister of Health on the funding and administering the funds for insured physician, surgical-dental and hospital services.

Section 36 of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act prescribes that the Minister of Health submit an annual report concerning the medical care insurance plan to the Legislative Assembly.

The Regional Health Services Act prescribes that each regional health authority shall submit to the Minister of Health:

  • a report on the activities of the regional health authority; and
  • a detailed, audited set of financial statements.

Section 54 of the Regional Health Services Act requires that regional health authorities and the Cancer Agency shall submit to the Minister any reports that the Minister may request from time to time. Regional health authorities and the Cancer Agency are required to submit a financial and health service plan to Saskatchewan Health.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The Provincial Auditor conducts an annual audit of government ministries and agencies, including Saskatchewan Health. It includes an audit of Ministry payments to regional health authorities, to the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, and to physicians and dental surgeons for insured physician and surgical-dental services.

Section 57 of the Regional Health Services Act requires that an independent auditor, who possesses the prescribed qualification and is appointed for that purpose by a regional health authority and the Cancer Agency, shall audit the accounts of a regional health authority or the Cancer Agency at least once in every fiscal year. Each regional health authority and the Cancer Agency must annually submit to the Minister of Health a detailed, audited set of financial statements.

Section 34 of the Cancer Foundation Act prescribes that the records and accounts of the Saskatchewan Cancer Foundation shall be audited at least once a year by the Provincial Auditor or by a designated representative.

The most recent audits were for the year ended March 31, 2010.

The audits of the Government of Saskatchewan, regional health authorities and Saskatchewan Cancer Agency are tabled in the Saskatchewan Legislature each year. The reports are available to the public directly from each entity or are available on their websites.

The Office of the Provincial Auditor for Saskatchewan also prepares reports to the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. These reports are designed to assist the government in managing public resources and to improve the information provided to the Legislative Assembly. They are available on the  Provincial Auditor's website: http://www.auditor.sk.ca

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Section 8 of the Regional Health Services Act (the Act) gives the Minister the authority to provide funding to a regional health authority or a health care organization for the purpose of the Act.

Section 10 of the Regional Act permits the Minister to designate facilities including hospitals, special care homes and health centres. Section 11 allows the Minister to prescribe standards for delivering services in those facilities by regional health authorities and health care organizations that have entered into service agreements with a regional health authority.

The Act sets out the accountability requirements for regional health authorities and health care organizations. These requirements include submitting annual operational and financial and health service plans for ministerial approval (sections 50-51); establishing community advisory networks (section 28); and reporting critical incidents (section 58). The Minister also has the authority to establish a provincial surgical registry to help manage surgical wait times (section 12). The Minister retains authority to inquire into matters (section 59); appoint a public administrator if necessary (section 60); and approve general and staff practitioner by-laws (sections 42-44).

Funding for hospitals is included in the funding provided to regional health authorities.

A comprehensive range of insured services is provided by hospitals. These may include: public ward accommodation; necessary nursing services; the use of operating room and case room facilities; required medical and surgical materials and appliances; x-ray, laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures; radiotherapy facilities; anaesthetic agents and the use of anaesthesia equipment; physiotherapeutic procedures; all drugs, biological and related preparations required for hospitalized patients; and services rendered by individuals who receive remuneration from the hospital.

Hospitals are grouped into the following five categories: Community Hospitals; Northern Hospitals; District Hospitals; Regional Hospitals; and Provincial Hospitals, so people know what they can expect 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at each hospital. While not all hospitals will offer the same kinds of services, reliability and predictability means:

  • it is widely understood which services each hospital offers; and
  • these services will be provided on a continuous basis, subject to the availability of appropriate health providers.

Regional health authorities have the authority to change the manner in which they deliver insured hospital services based on an assessment of their population health needs and available health professional funding resources.

The process for adding a hospital service to the list of services covered by the health care insurance plan involves a comprehensive review, which takes into account such factors as service need, anticipated service volume, health outcomes by the proposed and alternative services, cost and human resource requirements, including availability of providers as well as initial and ongoing competency assurance demands. A regional health authority initiates the process and, depending on the specific service request, it could include consultations involving several branches within Saskatchewan Health as well as external stakeholder groups such as health regions, service providers and the public.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

Sections 8 and 9 of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act enable the Minister of Health to establish and administer a plan of medical care insurance for provincial residents. All fee items for physicians can be found in the  Physician Payment Schedule: www.health.gov.sk.ca/physician-information

As of March 31, 2010, there were 1,882 physicians licensed to practice in the province and eligible to participate in the medical care insurance plan.

Physicians may opt out or not participate in the Medical Services Plan, but if doing so, they must fully opt out of all insured physician services. The opted-out physician must also advise beneficiaries that the physician services to be provided are not insured and that the beneficiary is not entitled to be reimbursed for those services. Written acknowledgement from the beneficiary indicating that he or she understands the advice given by the physician is also required.

As of March 31, 2010, there were no opted-out physicians in Saskatchewan.

Insured physician services are those that are medically necessary, are covered by the Medical Services Plan of the Ministry of Health, and are listed in the Physician Payment Schedule of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Payment Regulations (1994) of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act.

A process of formal discussion between the Medical Services Plan and the Saskatchewan Medical Association addresses new insured physician services and definition or assessment rule revisions to existing selected services (modernization) with significant monetary impact. The Executive Director of the Medical Services Branch manages this process. When the Medical Services Plan covers a new insured physician service or significant revisions occur to the Physician Payment Schedule, a regulatory amendment is made to the Physician Payment Schedule.

Although formal public consultations are not held, any member of the public may make recommendations about physician services to be added to the Medical Services Plan.

2.3 Insured Surgical-dental Services

Dentists may opt out or not participate in the Medical Services Plan, but if doing so, they must opt out of all insured surgical-dental services. The dentist must also advise beneficiaries that the surgical-dental services to be provided are not insured and that the beneficiary is not entitled to reimbursement for those services. Written acknowledgement from the beneficiary indicating that he or she understands the advice given by the dentist is also required.

There were no opted-out dentists in Saskatchewan as of March 31, 2010.

Insured surgical-dental services are limited to: services in connection with maxillo-facial surgery required as a result of trauma; treatment services for the orthodontic care of cleft palate; extraction of teeth when medically required for the provision of heart surgery, services for chronic renal disease and services for total joint replacement by prosthesis when a proper referral has been made and prior approval obtained from Medical Services Branch; and certain services in connection with abnormalities of the mouth and surrounding structures.

Surgical-dental services can be added to the list of insured services covered under the Medical Services Plan through a process of discussion and consultation with provincial dental surgeons. The Executive Director of the Medical Services Branch manages the process of adding a new service. Although formal public consultations are not held, any member of the public may recommend that surgical-dental services be added to the Plan.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician And Surgical-dental Services

Uninsured hospital, physician and surgical-dental services in Saskatchewan include: in-patient and outpatient hospital services provided for reasons other than medical necessity; the extra cost of private and semi-private hospital accommodation not ordered by a physician; physiotherapy and occupational therapy services not provided by or under contract with a regional health authority; services provided by health facilities other than hospitals unless through an agreement with Saskatchewan Health; non-emergency bone mineral densitometry provided outside Saskatchewan without prior written approval; non-emergency insured hospital, physician or surgical-dental services obtained outside Canada without prior written approval; non-medically required elective physician services; surgical-dental services that are not medically necessary; and services received under other public programs including the Workers' Compensation Act, the federal Department of Veteran Affairs and the Mental Health Services Act.

As a matter of policy and principle, insured hospital, physician and surgical-dental services are provided to residents on the basis of assessed clinical need. Compliance is periodically monitored through consultation with regional health authorities, physicians and dentists. There are no charges allowed in Saskatchewan for medically necessary hospital, physician or surgical-dental services. Charges for enhanced medical services or products are permitted only if the medical service or product is not deemed medically necessary. Compliance is monitored through consultations with regional health authorities, physicians and dentists.

Insured hospital services could be de-insured by the government if they were determined to be no longer medically necessary. The process is based on discussions among regional health authorities, practitioners, and officials from the Ministry of Health.

Insured physician services could be de-insured if they were determined not to be medically required. The process is based on consultations with the Saskatchewan Medical Association and managed by the Executive Director of the Medical Services Branch.

Insured surgical-dental services could be de-insured if they were determined not to be medically necessary. The process is based on discussion and consultation with the dental surgeons of the province, and is managed by the Executive Director of the Medical Services Branch.

Formal public consultations about de-insuring hospital, physician or surgical-dental services may be held if warranted.

No health services were de-insured in 2009-2010.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

The Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act (sections 2 and 12) and the Medical Care Insurance Beneficiary and Administration Regulations define eligibility for insured health services in Saskatchewan. Section 11 of the Act requires that all residents register for provincial health coverage.

Eligibility is limited to residents. A "resident" means a person who is legally entitled to remain in Canada, who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present in Saskatchewan, or any other person declared by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council to be a resident. Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada relocating from within Canada to Saskatchewan are generally eligible for coverage on the first day of the third month following the establishing of residency in Saskatchewan.

Returning Canadian citizens, the families of returning members of the Canadian Forces, international students, and international workers are eligible for coverage on establishing residency in Saskatchewan, provided that residency is established before the first day of the third month following their admittance to Canada.

The following persons are not eligible for insured health services in Saskatchewan:

  • members of the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), federal inmates and refugee claimants; visitors to the province; and
  • persons eligible for coverage from their home province or territory for the period of their stay in Saskatchewan (e.g., students and workers covered under temporary absence provisions from their home province or territory).

Such people become eligible for coverage as follows:

  • discharged members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP, if stationed in or resident in Saskatchewan on their discharge date;
  • released federal inmates (this includes those prisoners who have completed their sentences in a federal penitentiary and those prisoners who have been granted parole and are living in the community); and
  • refugee claimants, on receiving Convention Refugee status (immigration documentation is required).

The number of persons registered for health services in Saskatchewan on June 30, 2009 was 1,036,284.

3.2 Other Categories of Individual

Other categories of individual who are eligible for insured health service coverage include persons allowed to enter and remain in Canada under authority of a work permit, study permit or Minister's permit issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Their accompanying family may also be eligible for insured health service coverage.

Refugees are eligible on confirmation of Convention status combined with a study/work permit, Minister's permit or permanent resident, that is, landed immigrant, record.

On June 30, 2009, there were 8,539 such temporary residents registered with Saskatchewan Health.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

In general, insured persons from another province or territory who move to Saskatchewan are eligible on the first day of the third month following establishment of residency. However, where one spouse arrives in advance of the other, the eligibility for the later arriving spouse is established on the earlier of a) the first day of the third month following arrival of the second spouse; or b) the first day of the thirteenth month following the establishment of residency by the first spouse.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences In Canada

Section 3 of the Medical Care Insurance Beneficiary and Administration Regulations of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act prescribes the portability of health insurance provided to Saskatchewan residents while temporarily absent within Canada. There were no changes to the in-Canada temporary absence provisions in 2009-2010.

Section 6.6 of the Department of Health Act provides the authority for paying in-patient hospital services to Saskatchewan beneficiaries temporarily residing outside the province. Section 10 of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Payment Regulations (1994) provides payment for physician services to Saskatchewan beneficiaries temporarily residing outside the province.

Continued coverage during a period of temporary absence is conditional upon the registrant's intent to return to Saskatchewan residency immediately on expiration of the approved absence period as follows:

  • education: for the duration of studies at a recognized educational facility (written confirmation by a Registrar of full-time student status is required annually);
  • employment of up to 12 months (no documentation required); and
  • vacation and travel of up to 12 months.

Saskatchewan has bilateral reciprocal billing agreements with all provinces for hospital services, and all but Quebec for physician services. Rates paid are at the host province rates. The reciprocal arrangement for physician services applies to every province except Quebec.

Payments/reimbursement to Quebec physicians, for services to Saskatchewan residents, are made at Saskatchewan rates (Saskatchewan Physician Payment Schedule). However, the physician fees may be paid at Quebec rates with prior approval. In recent years, the out-of-province reciprocal hospital per diem billing rates have increased significantly.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

Section 3 of the Medical Care Insurance Beneficiary and Administration Regulations describe the portability of health insurance provided to Saskatchewan residents who are temporarily absent from Canada.

Continued coverage for students, temporary workers, and vacationers and travellers during a period of temporary absence from Canada is conditional on the registrant's intent to return to Saskatchewan residence immediately on the expiration of the approved period as follows:

  • education: for the duration of studies at a recognized educational facility (written confirmation by a Registrar of full-time student status is required annually);
  • contract employment of up to 24 months (written confirmation from the employer is required); and
  • vacation and travel of up to 12 months.

Section 3 of the Medical Care Insurance Beneficiary and Administration Regulations provides open-ended temporary absence coverage for persons whose principal place of residence is in Saskatchewan, but who are not able to satisfy the annual six months physical presence requirement because the nature of their employment requires travel from place to place outside Canada (e.g., cruise line workers).

Section 6.6 of the Department of Health Act provides the authority under which a resident is eligible for health coverage when temporarily outside Canada. In summary, a resident is eligible for medically necessary hospital services at the rate of $100 per in-patient and $50 per out-patient visit per day.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Out-Of-Province

Saskatchewan Health covers most hospital and medical out-of-province care received by its residents in Canada through a reciprocal billing arrangement. This arrangement means that residents do not need prior approval and may not be billed for most services received in other provinces or territories while travelling within Canada. The cost of travel, meals and accommodation are not covered.

Prior approval is required for the following services provided out-of-province:

  • alcohol and drug, mental health and problem gambling services; and
  • bone mineral densitometry testing.

Prior approval from the Ministry must be obtained by the patient's specialist.

Out-Of-Country

Prior approval is required for the following services provided outside Canada:

  • If a specialist physician refers a patient outside Canada for treatment not available in Saskatchewan or another province, the referring specialist must seek prior approval from the Medical Services Plan of Saskatchewan Health. The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency is consulted for out-of-country cancer treatment requests. If approved, Saskatchewan Health will pay the full cost of treatment, excluding any items that would not be covered in Saskatchewan.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access To Insured Health Services

To ensure that access to insured hospital, physician and surgical-dental services are not impeded or precluded by financial barriers, extra-billing by physicians or dental surgeons and user charges by hospitals for insured health services are not allowed in Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in providing public services, which include insured health services, on the basis of race, creed, religion, colour, sex, sexual orientation, family status, marital status, disability, age, nationality, ancestry or place of origin.

Saskatchewan Health continues to place priority on promoting surgical access and improving the province's surgical system.

Sooner, Safer, Smarter: A Plan to Transform the Surgical Patient Experience was released on March 29, 2010. The plan will guide efforts to improve the surgical experience and reduce surgical wait times to a maximum of three months within four years, while ensuring shorter wait times can be sustained into the future. The four year plan is in response to recommendations in the Patient First Review, and was developed with assistance from stakeholder advisory groups. It is designed to improve the patients' experience across the entire continuum of care--from initial contact with a health provider, to surgery, to recuperation in the community.

The plan is based on five objectives: 1) shorter waits for surgical care; 2) a better experience for patients and families; 3) safe, high quality care; 4) support for good health, and 5) patient centred providers. Supporting the objectives are 25 initiatives such as increasing surgical procedures and diagnostic imaging services, offering opportunities for greater patient choice, mechanisms to improve safety, health promotion and injury prevention activities, and initiatives to support an effective health work force.

As of March 31, 2010, there were 1,882 physicians licensed to practice in the province and eligible to participate in the Medical Care Insurance Plan. Of these, 1,013 (53.8 percent) were family practitioners and 869 (46.2 percent) were specialists.

As of March 31, 2010, there were approximately 386 practising dentists and dental surgeons located in all major centres in Saskatchewan. Seventy provided services insured under the Medical Services Plan.

In May 2009, the Government of Saskatchewan released the Physician Recruitment Strategy in an effort to address province-wide physician shortages. Key components of the strategy that launched were the physician repatriation campaign/student ambassadors, the Physician Recruitment Agency, and the Saskatchewan-Based Assessment for International Medical Graduates. This is in addition to the various programs the Ministry supports to assist in retaining and recruiting physicians to the province.

Within the recruitment strategy, the following initiatives have been implemented:

  • The provincial recruitment agency was established and the Minister announced the appointment of nine board members at a news conference on March 11, 2010. The agency now has 10 board members appointed. The agency will act as a one-stop point of contact for physicians seeking to set up practice in Saskatchewan.
  • The Ministries of Health and Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration (AEEI) have announced provided funding of $1 million each, for a total of $2 million towards the development of a provincial plan for distributive medical education (DME) led by the Saskatchewan Academic Health Sciences Network (March 15, 2010). The DME will increase the number of physicians trained in rural centres.
  • In addition to the new initiatives above, the Ministry provides various practicing establishment grants, training grants, and residency positions in exchange for return-of-service commitments. The Ministry funds compensation mechanisms for emergency room coverage to ensure patients have access to emergency medical services.

There are also a number of programs to stabilize and support medical services in rural areas, such as the following:

  • The Saskatchewan Medical Association is funded to provide locum relief to rural physicians through the Locum Service Program while they take vacation, education or other leave.
  • The Northern Medical Services Program is a tripartite endeavour of Saskatchewan Health, Health Canada and the University of Saskatchewan to help stabilize the supply of physicians in northern Saskatchewan.
  • The Northern Telehealth Network provides physicians in remote or isolated areas with access to colleagues, specialty expertise and continuing education.
Other programs
  • Support is provided to initiatives for physicians to use allied health professionals and enhance the integration of medical services with other community-based services through the Alternate Payments and Primary Health Services Program.
  • A Long-term Service Retention Program rewards physicians who work in the province for 10 or more years.
  • The Parental Leave Program was developed in 2004 to provide benefits for self-employed physicians who take a maternity, paternity or adoption child care leave from clinical practice.

5.2 Physician Compensation

The latest three-year agreement with the Saskatchewan Medical Association, which expired March 31, 2009, provided increases in the Physician Payment Schedule of 2.8 percent in each year of the agreement. Similar increases were applied to non-fee-for-service physicians.

Section 6 of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Payment Regulations, 1994, outlines the obligation of the Minister of Health to make payments for insured services in accordance with the Physician Payment Schedule and the Dentist Payment Schedule.

Fee-for-service is the most widely used method of compensating physicians for insured health services in Saskatchewan, although sessional payments, salaries, capitation arrangements and blended methods are also used. Fee-for-service is the only mechanism used to fund dentists for insured surgical-dental services. Total expenditures for in-province physician services and programs in 2009-2010 amounted to $692.9 million: $404.8 million for fee-for-service billings; $22.2 million for Emergency Coverage Programs; $224.4 million in non-fee-for-service expenditures; and $41.5 million for Saskatchewan Medical Association programs as outlined in the agreement.

5.3 Payments To Hospitals

Funding to regional health authorities is based on historical funding levels adjusted for inflation, collective agreement costs and utilization increases. Each regional health authority is given a global budget and is responsible for allocating funds within that budget to address service needs and priorities identified through its needs assessment processes.

Regional health authorities may receive additional funds for providing specialized hospital programs (e.g., renal dialysis, specialized medical imaging services, specialized respiratory services, and surgical services), or for providing services to residents from other health regions.

Payments to regional health authorities for delivering services are made pursuant to section 8 of the Regional Health Services Act. The legislation provides the authority for the Minister of Health to make grants to regional health authorities and health care organizations for the purposes of the Act, and to arrange for providing services in any area of Saskatchewan if it is in the public interest to do so.

Regional health authorities provide an annual report on the aggregate financial results of their operations.

6.0 Recognition Given To Federal Transfers

The Government of Saskatchewan publicly acknowledged the federal contributions provided through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) in the Ministry's 2009-2010 Annual Report, the Government of Saskatchewan 2009-2010 Annual Budget and related budget documents, its 2009-2010 Public Accounts, and the Quarterly and Mid-Year Financial Reports. These documents were tabled in the Legislative Assembly and are publicly available to Saskatchewan residents. Federal contributions have also been acknowledged on the Saskatchewan Health website, in news releases and issue papers, and in speeches and remarks made at various conferences, meetings and public policy forums.

Registered Persons
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Number as of March 31st (#).1 1,021,080 1,003,231 1,014,649 1,035,544 1,036,284
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province Or Territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
2. Number (#). 67 67 67 67 67
3. Payments for insured health services ($). 922,675,0002 1,173,115,0002 1,277,632,0002 1,402,176,0002 1,556,078,0002
Private For-Profit Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#). 0 0 0 0 0
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($). 0 0 0 0 0
Insured Hospital Services Provided To Residents In Another Province Or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 4,566 4,627 4,212 4,365 5,722
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 33,671,100 36,828,100 31,569,400 43,631,600 53,119,000
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 55,067 52,591 81,787 65,274 71,123
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 11,044,200 11,573,400 17,240,900 17,936,200 21,497,100
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 248 242 245 251 398
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 2,033,300 2,473,400 2,291,200 1,637,300 2,755,200
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 1,194 1,454 1,381 1,437 2,189
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 1,486,500 1,019,500 970,500 1,468,500 1,810,000
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province Or Territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
14. Number of participating physicians (#). 1,719 1,753 1,795 1,836 1,882
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#). 0 0 0 0 0
16. Number of non-participating physicians (#). 0 0 0 0 0
17. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods ($). 528,759,380 554,193,389 585,863,285 630,253,960 651,437,652
18. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service ($). 362,884,810 369,664,529 401,172,658 398,867,624 409,446,7583
Insured Physician Services Provided To Residents In Another Province Or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
19. Number of services (#). 542,651 603,687 561,415 599,106 586,621
20. Total payments ($). 20,541,894 24,239,622 25,442,417 27,753,524 29,037,662
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). not available not available not available not available not available
22. Total payments ($). 695,900 692,600 637,600 647,700 1,299,600
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 78 74 82 79 70
24. Number of services provided (#). 18,511 18,203 16,347 18,085 22,349
25. Total payments ($). 1,539,420 1,511,882 1,577,176 1,840,276 2,013,007

1 Saskatchewan's numbers as of June 30, 2009.

2 This number includes estimated government funding to regional health authorities (RHAs) based on total projected expenditures less non-government revenue, as provided to Saskatchewan Health through the RHA annual operational plans.

  • Acute care funding includes: acute care services, specialized hospital services, and in-hospital specialist services.
  • Includes rehabilitation services at Wascana Rehabilitation Centre and all other inpatient rehabilitation therapy.
  • Includes mental health services at Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford (SHNB) and the Calder addiction program. Does not include any other in-patient mental health or addiction treatment services.
  • Does not include payments to Saskatchewan Cancer Agency for out-patient chemotherapy and radiation.

3 Figure is composed of fee-for-service billing and funding for the Emergency Rural Coverage Program which is paid through the fee-for-service program.

Alberta

Introduction: Alberta's Health Care System

In 2009-2010, the Alberta Ministry of Health and Wellness continued to pursue its goal of improving the performance and accessibility of the health system in meeting the needs of Albertans. Some key achievements include:

  • In February 2010, the Alberta government announced a 5-year operating funding commitment to Alberta Health Services (AHS). This commitment provides predictable, stable health system funding, enables AHS to plan and implement health system improvements, and will be supported by health system performance measures with five-year targets.
  • The Minister's Advisory Committee on Health was launched in September 2009 to advise on legislative reforms to help Alberta respond and implement current and future health system services. In January 2010, the committee released its report which included four broad recommendations, including developing a new Alberta Health Act. The report also recommended the development of a set of principles for the health system, ensuring ongoing citizen engagement in the development of legislation, regulation and policy, and the development of clear directions to guide legislative, regulatory, policy and program delivery changes across the health system.
  • As part of the Alberta Pharmaceutical Strategy, generic drug prices were reduced. The reductions generally ranged from 75 per cent to 56 per cent of the price of comparable brand name drugs for existing generic drugs, and to 45 per cent of the price of comparable brand name drugs for new generic drugs.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan And Public Authority

The Ministry of Health and Wellness administers the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan on a non-profit basis and in accordance with the Canada Health Act. Since 1969, the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act has governed the operation of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. The Minister determines which services are covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The Minister of Health and Wellness is accountable for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. The Government Accountability Act establishes the planning, reporting and accountability structures that government and accountable organizations must adhere to.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The Auditor General of Alberta audits all government ministries, departments, regulated funds and provincial agencies, and is responsible for assuring the public that the government's financial reporting is credible. The Auditor General of Alberta completed its audit of Health and Wellness on March 31, 2010, and indicated that the statements fairly present, in all material respects, the financial position and results of operations for the year ended March 31, 2010.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

In Alberta, Alberta Health Services is the body responsible to the Minister for ensuring the provision of insured hospital services. The Hospitals Act, the Hospitalization Benefits Regulation (AR 244/1990), the Health Care Protection Act and the Health Care Protection Regulation (AR 208/2000) regulate the provision of insured services by hospitals or designated non-hospital surgical facilities. According to the legislation, all hospitals and non-hospital surgical facilities must be approved by the Minister. A  directory of approved hospitals in Alberta can be found at: www.health.alberta.ca/documents/hospital-directory.pdf

During 2009-2010, no amendments were made to the legislation regarding insured hospital services.

The publicly funded services provided by approved hospitals in Alberta range from the most advanced levels of diagnostic and treatment services for in-patients and out-patients to the routine care and management of patients with previously diagnosed chronic conditions. The benefits available to hospital patients in Alberta are established in the  Hospitalization Benefits Regulation (AR244/1990). The Regulation is available at: www.health.alberta.ca/about/health-legislation.html

There is no regular process to review insured hospital services, as the list of insured services included in the regulations is intended to be both comprehensive and generic, and does not require routine review and updating. Changes to specific physician services can be found in the Schedule of Medical Benefits, and are described in the next section.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Act governs the payment of physicians for insured physician services under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (section 6). Only physicians who meet the requirements stated in the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act are allowed to provide insured services under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.

Alberta had 6,482 fee-for-service physicians who were billing the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan as of March 31, 2010.

Before being registered with the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, a practitioner must complete the appropriate registration forms and include a copy of his or her license issued by the appropriate governing body or association, such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.

Under section 8 of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act, physicians may opt out of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. In general, a physician may opt out of the Plan by notifying the Minister in writing indicating the effective date of the opting out, by publishing a notice of the proposed opting out in a newspaper having general circulation in the area in which the physician practices, and by posting a notice of the proposed opting out in a part of the physician's office to which patients have access at least 180 days prior to the effective date of the opting out.

Under section 8 of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act, all physicians are deemed to be participating in the Plan. A physician may choose not to participate in the plan by notifying the Minister in writing of the effective date of their non-participation and by ensuring that each patient is advised of their non-participating status before any service is provided to the patient. As of March 31, 2010, there were zero non-participating physicians in the province.

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Regulation defines which services are not considered to be either basic or extended health services. The Medical Benefits Regulation establishes the benefits payable for insured medical services provided to a resident of Alberta. Descriptions of those services are set out in the  Schedule of Medical Benefits (SOMB), which can be accessed at: http://www.health.alberta.ca/professionals/SOMB.html

The SOMB is continuously being revised for improvements made to physician services insured under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Effective April 1, 2009, extensive changes were made to the SOMB. All changes to the SOMB require ministerial approval. Some of the highlights for these changes included:

  • The introduction of the comprehensive annual care plan to be utilized for complex care patients;
  • The introduction of the comprehensive geriatric assessment for use with patients aged 75 years and older; and
  • Enabling physical therapists for referrals to physicians.

Any changes to the insured physician services listed in the SOMB are the result of trilateral negotiations between the Alberta Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Alberta Medical Association, and Alberta Health Services.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

In Alberta, a small number of surgical-dental services are insured. The majority of dental procedures that can be billed to the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan can only be performed by a dentist certified as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who meets the requirements stated in the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act. Under section 7 of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act, all dentists are deemed to have opted into the Plan. A dentist may opt out of the plan by notifying the Minister in writing of the effective date of their opting out and by ensuring that each patient is advised of their opted out status before any service is provided to the patient. As of March 31, 2010, no dentists were opted out of the Plan in Alberta.

Alberta insures a number of medically necessary oral surgical and dental procedures that are listed in the  Schedule of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Benefits, available at: http://www.health.alberta.ca/professionals/allied-services-schedule.html

Although there is no formal agreement between dentists and the Alberta Ministry of Health and Wellness, the department meets with members of the Alberta Dental Association and College to discuss changes to the Schedule of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Benefits. All changes to the benefit schedule require ministerial approval.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician And Surgical-Dental Services

Section 12 of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Regulation defines which services are not considered to be insured. Section 4(2) of the Hospitalization Benefits Regulation provides a list of hospital services that are not considered to be insured. Alberta's policy for  Preferred Accommodation and Non-Standard Goods or Services is available at: www.health.alberta.ca/newsroom/pub-health-authorities.html

The policy describes the province's expectations of Alberta Health Services and guides its decision-making with respect to provision of preferred accommodation and enhanced or non-standard goods and services. This policy framework requires Alberta Health Services to provide 30 days advance notice to the Minister's designate regarding the categories of preferred accommodation offered and the charges associated with each category. Alberta Health Services is also required to provide 30 days advance notice to the Minister's designate regarding any goods or services that will be provided as non-standard goods or services. They are also required to provide information about the associated charge for these goods or services, and when applicable, the criteria or clinical indications that may qualify patients to receive it as a standard good or service. Finally, Alberta Health Services must publish and keep current a list of non-standard medical goods or services. These lists are periodically reviewed by the Ministry of Health and Wellness and by Alberta Health Services.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Under the terms of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act, all Alberta residents are eligible to receive publicly funded health care services under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. A resident is defined as a person lawfully entitled to be or to remain in Canada who makes the province his or her home and is ordinarily present in Alberta. The term "resident" does not include a tourist, transient or visitor to Alberta. Persons moving permanently to Alberta from outside Canada are eligible for coverage if they are landed immigrants, returning landed immigrants or returning Canadian citizens. Temporary residents may also be eligible for coverage if they intend to remain in Alberta for 12 months and their Canada entry documents are in order.

Residents who are not eligible for coverage under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, but are covered by the federal government, include:

  • members of the Canadian Armed Forces;
  • members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) who are appointed to a rank in it; and
  • persons serving a term in a federal penitentiary.

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan covers persons released from the RCMP, the Canadian Armed Forces and federal penitentiaries, effective the date of release, if notified within three months. If they are released in another part of Canada, they are eligible for coverage on the first day of the third month after becoming a resident of Alberta.

During 2009-2010, no amendments were made to the legislation regarding eligibility.

All Alberta residents are required to register themselves and their eligible dependants with the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Family members are registered on the same account. New residents in Alberta should apply for coverage within three months of arrival. For persons moving from outside Canada, their registration is effective as of the day they become an Alberta resident. The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan processes for registering Albertans and issuing replacement health cards require registrants to provide documentation that proves their identity, legal entitlement to be in Canada, and Alberta residency. These requirements have improved security and confidentiality while reducing the potential for fraud or abuse.

As of March 31, 2010, there were 3,692,001 Alberta residents registered with the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Under the Health Insurance Premiums Act, a resident may opt out of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan by filing a declaration with the Minister. As of March 31, 2010, there were 283 Alberta residents who were opted out of the Plan.

3.2 Other Categories Of Individual

Temporary residents arriving from outside Canada who may be deemed residents include persons on Visitor Records, Student or Employment Authorizations and Minister's Permits. There were 73,193 people covered under these conditions as of March 31, 2010.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

Under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act, persons moving permanently to Alberta from another part of Canada are eligible for coverage on the first day of the third month following their arrival.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences In Canada

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan provides coverage for the first 12 months of absence to eligible Alberta residents who temporarily leave Alberta for other parts of Canada. Residents who wish to maintain coverage for a longer period may apply for the following extensions of coverage:

  • four years (48 months) if the absence is due to work, business or missionary service;
  • two years (24 months) if the absence is due to travel, personal visits or an educational leave (sabbatical); and
  • duration of studies if absence is due to full-time attendance at an accredited educational institute.

Individuals who are routinely absent from Alberta every year normally need to spend a cumulative total of 183 days in a 12-month period in Alberta to maintain continuous coverage. Individuals not present in Alberta for the required 183 days may be considered residents of Alberta if they satisfy the Ministry of Health and Wellness that Alberta is their permanent and principal place of residence.

Alberta participates in the inter-provincial hospital and medical reciprocal agreements. These agreements were established to minimize complex billing processes and to help ensure timely payments to physicians and hospitals when they provide services to residents from other provinces/territories (Quebec does not participate in the medical reciprocal agreement). Under these agreements, Alberta pays for insured services Albertans receive in other parts of Canada at the host province or territorial rates.

In 2009-2010 no amendments were made to the legislation regarding in-Canada portability. More information on  coverage during temporary absences outside Alberta is available at: www.health.alberta.ca/AHCIP/Q-coverage-outside-Alberta.html

Section 16 of the Hospitalization Benefits Regulation addresses payment for hospital services obtained outside of Alberta within Canada. Section 4 of the Medical Benefits Regulation addresses payment of physician services obtained outside of Alberta within Canada. These sections were not amended in 2009-2010.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan provides coverage in Alberta for the first six consecutive months of temporary absence from Canada. Residents who wish to maintain coverage for a longer period may apply for the following extensions of coverage:

  • four years (48 months) if the absence is due to work, business or missionary service;
  • two years (24 months) if the absence is due to travel, personal visits or an educational leave (sabbatical); and
  • duration of studies if absence is due to full-time attendance at an accredited educational institute.

Individuals who are routinely absent from Alberta every year normally need to spend a cumulative total of 183 days in a 12-month period in Alberta to maintain continuous coverage. Individuals not present in Alberta for the required 183 days may be considered residents of Alberta if they satisfy the Ministry of Health and Wellness that Alberta is their permanent and principal place of residence.

The maximum amount payable for out-of-country in-patient hospital services is $100 (Canadian) per day (not including day of discharge). The maximum hospital out-patient visit rate is $50 (Canadian), with a limit of one visit per day. The only exception is haemodialysis, which is paid at a maximum of $472 per visit, with a limit of one visit per day. Physician and dental specialist/oral surgeon services are paid according to Alberta rates. Funding may also be available through the Out of Country Health Services Committee process that evaluates reimbursement requests by Alberta residents for medically necessary services which are covered under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, but are not available in Canada. More information on  coverage during temporary absences outside Canada is accessible at: www.health.alberta.ca/AHCIP/Q-coverage-outside-Alberta.html

Section 16 of the Hospitalization Benefits Regulation addresses payment for hospital services obtained outside of Canada. Section 5 of the Medical Benefits Regulation addresses payment of physician services obtained outside of Canada. These sections were not amended in 2009-2010.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Prior approval is not required for elective insured services received in another Canadian province/territory, except for high-cost items not included in reciprocal agreements such as gamma knife surgery. Prior approval is required for elective services received out-of-country and will only be given for insured services that are medically required, are not experimental, and are not available in Alberta or elsewhere in Canada. Approval must be received before these services can be covered.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access To Insured Health Services

All Alberta residents have access to provincially funded and insured health services regardless of where they live in the province. Within Alberta, there are two major metropolitan zones, the Calgary zone and the Capital (Edmonton) zone, which provide provincially-funded, province-wide services to Alberta residents who need tertiary-level diagnostic and treatment services.

Alberta Health Services is responsible for overseeing the planning and delivery of health supports and services to more than three and a half million adults and children living in the province of Alberta. The board for Alberta Health Services governs all health services in the province, working in partnership with Alberta Health and Wellness to ensure all Albertans have equal access to health services across the province.

The Ministry funded several ambulatory, primary and acute care projects designed to improve Albertans access to these insured services. These projects include:

  • The completion of two new ambulatory care projects: the Eastwood Primary Health Care Centre in Edmonton and a primary care clinic in the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre in Calgary, as well as the emergency department renovation and expansion at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray and the Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Centre in Calgary.
  • Renovation and expansion of the emergency department and the endoscopy suite in Grande Prairie's Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, the Edmonton Clinic and the East Calgary Health Centre.
  • The completions of the acute care Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary, the new Robbins Pavilion (including the Lois Hole Hospital for Women) at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and the redevelopment of the Grey Nuns Community Hospital in Edmonton.
  • A new radiation therapy facility built in Lethbridge, which will expand the cancer services delivered at the Chinook Regional Hospital. Planning and design are continuing for a new cancer radiation therapy facility at the Red Deer Regional Hospital.
  • Two new Primary Care Networks (PCNs) were launched in 2009-2010. In July 2009, the Alberta Heartland PCN was launched to serve the City of Fort Saskatchewan and the surrounding area. In January 2010, the McLeod River PCN was launched to serve the City of Edson, the Town of Whitecourt, and the surrounding area. As of March 31, 2010, there were 32 PCNs operating in the province, which included more than 1900 family physicians providing primary health care to over 2.2 million Albertans.
  • Three new primary stroke centres were established as part of the Alberta Provincial Stroke Strategy, bringing the total to 14 primary stroke centres throughout the province. These new centres have improved Alberta's 24-hour access, via telestroke technology, to optimal stroke treatment.
  • A total of 51 new mental health and addiction treatment beds were opened to help treat those struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction, and psychiatric conditions. These beds will be integrated with existing mental health and addiction services to improve access and expand the continuum of care.

5.2 Physician Compensation

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Act governs the payment of physicians. Most physicians are compensated through the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan on a volume-driven, fee-for-service basis. Alternate Relationship Plans (ARPs) for specialists and family physicians offer alternative compensation models to the fee-for-service payment system. ARPs and PCNs contribute to better health outcomes by supporting innovative health care delivery.

Physician compensation is negotiated as part of a tri-lateral agreement involving the Alberta Medical Association, the Alberta Ministry of Health and Wellness, and Alberta Health Services. The agreement also contains provisions to improve access to physician services. Under this agreement, ARPs have been established to enhance physician recruitment and retention, team-based approaches to service delivery, access to services, patient satisfaction, and value for money. ARPs provide predictable funding that enables physician groups to recruit new physicians to their programs and retain their services. ARPs are unique in that they offer alternatives to the way government has traditionally funded health service delivery.

Also under the agreement, family physicians can partner with Alberta Health Services to create PCNs that manage access to front-line services. PCNs use a team approach to coordinate care for their patients. Family physicians work with health regions to better integrate health services by linking to regional services such as home care. Family physicians also work with other health providers such as nurses, dieticians, pharmacists, physiotherapists and mental health workers who help to provide services within the PCNs.

As with the majority of physicians, dentists performing oral surgical services insured under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan are compensated through the Plan on a volume driven, fee-for-service basis. The Ministry of Health and Wellness establishes fees through a consultation process with the Alberta Dental Association and College.

5.3 Payments to Hospitals

The Regional Health Authorities Act governs the funding of Alberta's single regional health authority -- Alberta Health Services. Most insured hospital services in Alberta are funded through a population-based funding formula. A mental health funding grant is provided for insured services provided in mental health hospitals and for community mental health services. A funding grant is provided for insured services in cancer hospitals and to pay for cancer services that patients receive in regional hospitals. Hospitals in Edmonton and Calgary receive funding to provide highly specialized province-wide services to all Alberta residents.

Alberta's Health Care Protection Act governs the provision of insured surgical services performed in non-hospital surgical facilities. Ministerial approval of a contract between the facility and/or operator and Alberta Health Services is required in order for the facility to provide insured services. Ministerial designation of a non-hospital surgical facility and accreditation by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta are also required.

According to the Health Care Protection Act, ministerial approval for a contractual agreement shall not be given unless:

  • the insured surgical services are consistent with the principles of the Canada Health Act;
  • there is a current and likely future need for the services in the geographical area;
  • the proposed surgical services will not have a negative impact on the province's public health system;
  • there will be an expected benefit to the public;
  • Alberta Health Services has an acceptable business plan to pay for the services;
  • the proposed agreement contains performance expectations and measures; and
  • the physicians providing the services will comply with the conflict of interest and ethical requirements of the Medical Profession Act and bylaws.

6.0 Recognition Given To Federal Transfers

The Government of Alberta publicly acknowledged the federal contributions provided through the Canada Health Transfer in its 2009-2010 publications.

Registered Persons
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Number as of March 31st (#). 3,275,931 3,384,625 3,473,996 3,589,494 3,692,001
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province Or Territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
2. Number (#). 208 204 204 251 248
3. Payments for insured health services ($). not available not available not available not available not available
Private For-Profit Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#). not available1 not available1 not available1 not available1 not available1
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($). not available not available not available not available not available
Insured Hospital Services Provided To Residents In Another Province Or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 4,508 4,608 5,334 5,447 5,411
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 21,080,232 22,005,293 27,481,524 31,475,940 33,077,528
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 77,438 82,710 101,455 104,127 105,792
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 12,820,959 14,305,024 18,004,246 25,346,678 26,879,756
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 4,124 3,698 4,014 4,762 4,506
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 379,710 336,859 378,043 446,718 425,269
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 3,918 3,816 3,934 4,305 4,544
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 222,896 224,761 214,162 291,836 306,639
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province Or Territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
14. Number of participating physicians (#). 5,585 5,850 6,058 6,266 6,482 2
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#). not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
16. Number of non-participating physicians (#). 0 0 0 0 0
17. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods ($). not available not available not available not available not available
18. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service ($). 1,472,634,054 1,558,128,163 1,718,717,023 1,851,703,042 2,133,199,354
Insured Physician Services Provided To Residents In Another Province Or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
19. Number of services (#). 479,029 463,410 548,423 696,639 599,596
20. Total payments ($). 17,745,928 17,450,377 20,899,683 22,614,491 24,621,807
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 24,944 22,909 22,055 22,817 22,070
22. Total payments ($). 1,049,384 1,054,544 1,105,831 1,245,840 1,266,451
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 230 220 207 202 212
24. Number of services provided (#). 17,007 16,783 16,769 18,705 18,963
25. Total payments ($). 3,275,978 3,637,243 3,913,975 4,479,725 4,847,467

1 These data are available from the  College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta at www.cpsa.ab.ca/home/home.asp
2 There are 7,048 physicians registered with the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP): 6,482 of the 7,048 bill fee-for-service; 1,459 of the 7,048 participate in Alternate Relationship Plans (ARPs); and 1,927 of the 7,048 participate in Public Health Networks (PCNs).

British Columbia

Introduction

British Columbia has a progressive and integrated health system that includes insured services under the Canada Health Act, services funded wholly or partially by the Government of British Columbia and services regulated, but not funded by, government.

The Ministry of Health Services has overall responsibility for ensuring that high quality, appropriate and timely health services are available to British Columbians. The Ministry works with six health authorities, care providers, agencies and other groups to provide access to care. The Ministry provides stewardship, leadership, direction and support to service delivery partners, and sets province-wide goals, standards and expectations for health service delivery by health authorities.

The Ministry directly manages and monitors a number of provincial programs and services. These programs include: the Medical Services Plan, which covers most physician services; PharmaCare, which provides prescription drug insurance for British Columbians; and the BC Vital Statistics Agency, which registers and reports on vital events, such as a birth, death or marriage. In addition, the Ministry links with the Emergency and Health Services Commission, which provides ambulance services across the province and operates HealthLink BC, a confidential information, advice and health navigation system available by telephone or on the web (see: www.healthlinkbc.ca).  HealthLink BC also publishes the BC HealthGuide and operates BC Bedline, the provincial acute bed management system.

The province's six health authorities are the main organizations responsible for local health service delivery. Five regional health authorities are responsible for delivering a full continuum of health services to meet the needs of the population within their respective regions. A sixth health authority, the Provincial Health Services Authority, is responsible for managing the quality, coordination and accessibility of selected, specialized, province-wide health programs and services provided through agencies.

In 2009-2010, the Government of British Columbia spent $15.5 billion to meet the health needs of British Columbians. This investment was made across a wide spectrum of programs and services aligned with goals of the Ministry of Health Services. The British Columbia health system continues to be challenged by an ever-increasing demand for health services, global competition for health care workers and professionals, and the need to maintain and improve buildings and equipment. As well, BC wants to ensure that all its residents enjoy access to health services and good health; regrettably, though, BC's Aboriginal population does not have the same level of good health as the rest of province, and the government is working with First Nations, Métis, and other partners to close this gap. Rising rates of obesity, a lack of physical activity, injuries, and problematic substance use all affect the health status of individuals and increase the demand for health services.

In 2009-2010, the Ministry introduced, continued or enhanced a number of strategies across the span of health services. These include: disease and injury prevention, primary care, chronic disease management, premium assistance, travel assistance, ambulance services, community programs for mental health and addictions, health promotion and prevention, hospital and surgical services, home care, assisted living, residential care and end-of-life care. The Ministry also worked to ensure that an adequate supply of skilled health care providers continued to be available across the continuum of care.

The following information highlights significant achievements in 2009-2010 in areas relevant to the Canada Health Act: providing increased access to care, innovation in health care, and health human resources.

Access to care:
  • The Government of British Columbia has invested over $150 million since 2006 specifically to reduce wait times for cancer care, vision restoration, cardiac surgery, diagnostics and joint replacement. In the last report card issued by the Wait Times Alliance in June 2010, only BC, Quebec and Ontario received A's in every category for their progress in ensuring people are being treated in a reasonable time for joint replacements, cancer care, cataract surgery and cardiac care.
  • The first cardiac procedures at Kelowna General Hospital were performed, allowing patients to get care closer to home, without having to travel to the Lower Mainland.
  • During the year, 29 new drugs were listed on the PharmaCare Program formulary, allowing British Columbians to benefit from additional eligible prescription drugs.
  • The province has built 6,327 net-new residential care beds, assisted living and supportive housing units, creating a total of 13,780 new and replacement beds opened since June 2001.
Innovation in health care:

The Ministry of Health Services continues to take steps to foster and promote innovations within the health care system, reducing wait times, increasing access, and improving the quality of care provided. Some highlights of current innovation strategies are outlined below:

  • In partnership with the BC Medical Association, the province continues to move forward with strategies that encourage family doctors to increase access to primary health care for the benefit of all British Columbians, including more than 15 separate initiatives to improve the care patients receive and the way in which doctors deliver it. In total, we are investing $800 million to implement changes that will support physicians and improve our primary care system.
  • A variety of iCare projects at hospitals across the province, which take a collaborative, team-based approach to patient care, have seen reductions in average length of stay across the board. For example, in a July review, Powell River General Hospital showed that the average length of stay for a patient decreased from 11.1 days to 9.5 days, a 13.9 per cent reduction.
Health human resources:

The Government of British Columbia works to ensure health program expansion continues to align with the health human resource plan. A mix of recruitment, retention and education strategies is needed to address current and projected demand.

Since 2001, 6,500 education spaces have been added to health programs (nursing, medical and allied health) across British Columbia. This amount includes 1,200 new allied health education seats and a doubling of the number of nursing spaces. Twenty-five new nursing programs have been created around the province, with three new accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Vancouver Community College and the University of the Fraser Valley. Also, the number of first year spaces in medicine has doubled in that time.

Plans are underway to further expand the medical program by 32 additional first year seats in the Okanagan beginning in September 2011. Currently, there are 7,231 practicing Canadian medical graduates, and 2,282 international medical graduates practicing with full licensure. In addition, the scope of practice for registered nurses has been changed, allowing them to dispense medication in the absence of a doctor or nurse practitioner to treat patients who may have the flu; this helps manage flu outbreaks in rural or remote communities. The number of nurses practicing in BC has increased by 37 per cent since 2001, to 13,527.

Since 2002-2003, the number of BC medical student graduates has increased from 128 per year to a potential of 256 by 2011-2012, and 288 by 2014-2015, improving availability and access to general practitioners (GPs) and specialists for BC residents.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan And Public Authority

The British Columbia Medical Services Plan (MSP) is administered by the British Columbia Ministry of Health Services. The Plan insures medically required services provided by physicians and supplementary health care practitioners, laboratory services and diagnostic procedures. The Ministry of Health Services sets goals, standards and performance agreements for health service delivery, and works with the six health authorities to provide quality, appropriate and timely health services to British Columbians. General hospital services are provided under the Hospital Insurance Act (section 8) and its regulation; the Hospital Act (section 4); the Continuing Care Act (section 3); and the Hospital District Act (section 20).

The Medical Services Commission (MSC) manages MSP on behalf of the Government of British Columbia in accordance with the Medicare Protection Act (section 3) and its regulation. The purpose is to preserve a publicly-managed and fiscally sustainable health care system for British Columbia, in which access to necessary medical care is based on need and not on an individual's ability to pay. The function and mandate of the MSC is to facilitate, under MSP, reasonable access to quality medical care, health care and diagnostic services for British Columbians.

The MSC is a nine-member statutory body made up of three representatives from government, three representatives from the British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA) and three members from the public, jointly nominated by the BCMA and government.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The MSC is accountable to the Government of British Columbia through the Minister of Health Services; a report is published annually for the prior fiscal year which provides an annual accounting of the business of the MSC, its subcommittees and other delegated bodies. In addition, the MSC Financial Statement is published annually; it contains an alphabetical listing of payments made by the MSC to practitioners, groups, clinics, hospitals and diagnostic facilities for each fiscal year.

The Ministry of Health Services provides extensive information in the Annual Service Plan Report on the performance of British Columbia's publicly funded health system. Tracking and reporting this information is consistent with the Ministry's strategic approach to performance planning and reporting, and is consistent with requirements contained in the province's Budget Transparency and Accountability Act (2000).

In addition to the Annual Service Plan Report, the Ministry reports through various publications, including:

  • Vital Statistics Annual Report;
  • Health Authority Government Letters of Expectations and Reports;
  • Provincial Health Officer's Annual Report (on the health of the population);
  • Nationally Comparable Indicators Report (Canadian Institute for Health Information); and
  • Medical Services Plan Resource Management Reports.

1.3 Audit Of Accounts

The Ministry is subject to audit of accounts and financial transactions through:

  • The Office of the Comptroller General's Internal Audit and Advisory Services, the government's internal auditor. The Comptroller General determines the scope of the internal audits and timing of the audits in consultation with the audit committee of the Ministry.
  • The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) of British Columbia is responsible for conducting audits and reporting its findings to the Legislative Assembly. The OAG initiates its own audits and the scope of its audits. The Public Accounts Committee of the Legislative Assembly reviews the recommendations of the OAG and determines when the Ministry has complied with the audit recommendations.

1.4 Designated Agency

The MSP of British Columbia requires premiums to be paid by eligible residents. The monies were collected by the Ministry of Finance during the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Revenue Services of British Columbia (RSBC) performs revenue management services, including account management, billing, remittance and collection, on behalf of the Province of British Columbia (Ministry of Finance). The province remains responsible for, retains control of, and performs all government-administered collection actions.

RSBC is required to comply with all applicable laws, including:

  • Ombudsman Act (British Columbia)
  • Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act (British Columbia)
  • Financial Administration Act (British Columbia)
  • Freedom of information legislation: i.e., Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (British Columbia) including FOIPPA inspections; the Personal Information Protection Act (British Columbia) and the equivalent federal legislation, if applicable.

In 2005, the Ministry of Health contracted with MAXIMUS BC to deliver the operations of the MSP and PharmaCare (including responding to public inquiries, registering clients, and processing medical and pharmaceutical claims from health professionals). The new organization is called Health Insurance BC (HIBC). Policy and decision-making functions remain with the Ministry of Health Services.

  • HIBC submits monthly reports to the Ministry of Health Services, reporting performance on service levels to the public and health care providers. HIBC also posts quarterly reports on its website on performance of key service levels.
  • HIBC applies payments against fee items approved by the Ministry. The Ministry of Health Services approves all payments before they are released.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

The Hospital Act and Hospital Act Regulation provide authority for the Minister of Health Services to designate facilities as hospitals, to license private hospitals, to approve the bylaws of hospitals, to inspect hospitals and to appoint a public administrator. This legislation also establishes broad parameters for the operation of hospitals. In 2009, the Hospital Act was amended to apply a Patients' Bill of Rights to patients in private hospitals and extended care facilities. The Bill of Rights was also added to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act to apply to adults in community care facilities regulated under the Act. The rights included in the Bill of Rights fall into four areas:

  • Commitment to care;
  • Rights to health, safety and dignity;
  • Rights to participation and freedom of expression; and
  • Rights to transparency and accountability.

A complementary regulation was made related to the manner of posting the Bill of Rights-the Patients' Bill of Rights Regulation.

In 2010, the Hospital Act was amended to prohibit employees of private hospitals and extended care facilities from persuading or inducing patients to make a gift or bequest for their benefit. It also prohibits employees from acting as a representative or under a power of attorney unless the employee is the spouse, parent, or child of the patient.

In 2010, the Hospital District Act was amended to align the statute with the establishment of the new Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (NRRM). The NRRM was incorporated on February 6, 2009. It is unique in the province because it is not within a regional district. As the regional district system is the vehicle for carrying out some important local government functions, the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Interim Regulation was passed to ensure ongoing normal functioning of the waste management and hospital district functions in the Northern Rockies. The legislative amendment extends the changes made by interim regulation by inserting them directly into legislation. The Hospital District Act was amended to reflect the responsibility of the British Columbia Assessment Authority to provide hospital district boards with the information setting out the current year net taxable value of all land and improvements in each member municipality and the rural area in the district, on both the completed and the revised assessment rolls.

The Hospital Insurance Act provides the authority for the Minister of Health Services to make payments to health authorities for the purpose of operating hospitals, outlines who is entitled to receive insured services, and defines the "general hospital services" which are to be provided as benefits. In 2009, an amendment was made to the Hospital Insurance Act to allow the Minister to reduce or waive co-payment fees for clients in residential care facilities and clients in acute care settings awaiting residential care placement. The client co-payment is intended to cover accommodation costs (i.e., room and board) while public funding covers care costs (i.e., nursing, care aides). The Hospital Insurance Fees Regulation had provided that the Minister may reduce or waive the co-payment; the amendments clarified the authority for the Minister to do this.

In 2009, the Hospital Insurance Act Regulation was amended to define the new co-payment rate structure and the calculations that are required to achieve the new rates while setting a maximum charge and maintaining the minimum residual income for low-income clients and beneficiaries. The new residential care copayment rate for clients in publicly funded facilities is 80% of the clients' annual after tax income with a minimum monthly rate of $894.40/month and a maximum rate of $2,392.00/month. A commitment was made to ensuring that every client or beneficiary has a minimum residual income of at least $275.00/month under the new fee structure.

In 2009, an amendment was made to the Continuing Care Act to allow the Minister to reduce or waive the co-payment fee. The client co-payment is intended to cover accommodation costs (i.e., room and board) while public funding covers care costs (i.e., nursing, care aides). The Continuing Care Fees Regulation had provided that the Minister may reduce or waive the co-payment fee. The amendments clarified the authority to do this.

In 2009, the Continuing Care Fees Regulation was amended to define the new co-payment rate structure and the calculations that are required to achieve the new rates while setting a maximum charge and maintaining the minimum residual income for low-income clients and beneficiaries. The new residential care co-payment rate for clients in publicly funded facilities is 80% of the client's annual after tax income with a minimum monthly rate of $894.40/month and a maximum rate of $2,392.00/ month. A commitment was made to ensuring that every client or beneficiary has a minimum residual income of at least $275.00/month under the new fee structure.

Hospital services are insured when they are provided to a beneficiary, in a publicly funded hospital, and are deemed medically required by the attending physician, nurse practitioner or midwife. These services are provided to beneficiaries without charge, with the exception of incremental charges for preferred, but not medically required, medical/surgical supplies, nonstandard accommodation when not medically required and, for residential care patients in extended care or general hospitals, a daily fee based on income.

General hospital services and the conditions under which they are provided are described in the Hospital Insurance Act Regulations and include the following for in-patients: accommodation and meals at the standard or public ward level; necessary nursing services; laboratory and radiological procedures and necessary interpretations together with such other diagnostic procedures as approved by the Minister in a particular hospital with the necessary interpretations, for maintaining health, preventing disease and helping diagnose and treat illness, injury or disability; drugs, biologicals and related preparations; routine surgical supplies; use of operating room and case room and anaesthetic facilities, including necessary equipment and supplies; use of radiotherapy and physiotherapy facilities, where available; and other services approved by the Minister.

The following out-patient general hospital services are also insured: day care surgical services; out-patient renal dialysis treatments in designated hospitals or other approved facilities; diabetic day-care services in designated hospitals; out-patient dietetic counselling services at hospitals with qualified staff dieticians; psychiatric out-patient and day-care services; rehabilitation out-patient services; cancer therapy and cytology services; out-patient psoriasis treatment; abortion services; and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services.

Insured services in rehabilitation hospitals include: accommodation and meals at the standard or public ward level; necessary nursing services; drugs, biologicals and related preparations; use of physiotherapy and occupational therapy facilities; laboratory and radiological procedures and necessary interpretations together with such other diagnostic procedures as approved by the Minister in a particular hospital with the necessary interpretations, for maintaining health, preventing disease and helping diagnose and treat illness, injury or disability; and other services approved by the Minister.

Insured services in extended care hospitals include: accommodation and meals at the standard ward level; necessary nursing services; drugs, biologicals, and related preparations; laboratory and radiological procedures and necessary interpretations together with such other diagnostic procedures as approved by the Minister in a particular hospital with the necessary interpretations, for maintaining health, preventing disease and helping diagnose and treat illness, injury or disability; and other services approved by the Minister.

Insured hospital services do not include: transportation to and from hospital (however, ambulance transfers are insured under another Ministry program, with a small user charge); services or treatment that the Minister, or a person designated by the Minister, determines, on a review of the medical evidence, the beneficiary does not require; services or treatment for an illness or condition excluded by regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council; and services provided to non-beneficiaries.

No new hospital services were added during the fiscal year 2009-2010.

There is no regular process to review insured hospital services, as the list of insured services included in the regulations is intended to be both comprehensive and generic and does not require routine review and updating. There is a formal process to add specific medical services (physician fee items) to the list of services insured under the Medicare Protection Act, and this process is described in Section 2.2 of this report.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The range of insured physician services covered by Medical Services Plan (MSP) includes all medically necessary diagnostic and treatment services.

Insured physician services are provided under the Medicare Protection Act (MPA). Section 13 provides that practitioners (including medical practitioners and health care practitioners, such as midwives) who are enrolled and who render benefits to a beneficiary are eligible to be paid for services rendered in accordance with the appropriate payment schedule.

Unless specifically excluded, the following medical services are insured as MSP benefits under the MPA in accordance with the Canada Health Act:

  • medically required services provided to "beneficiaries" (residents of British Columbia) by a medical practitioner enrolled with MSP; and
  • medically required services performed in an approved diagnostic facility under the supervision of an enrolled medical practitioner.

To practice in British Columbia, physicians must be registered and in good standing with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. To receive payment for insured services, they must be enrolled with MSP. In the fiscal year 2009-2010, 9,201 physicians (includes only general practitioners (GPs) and medical specialists who billed fee-for-service (FFS) in 2009-2010) were enrolled with MSP and billed FFS. In addition, some physicians practice solely on salary, receive sessional payments, or are on contract (service agreements) with the health authorities. Physicians paid by these alternative mechanisms may also practice on a FFS basis. Non-physician healthcare practitioners who may be enrolled to provide insured services under MSP are midwives and supplementary benefit practitioners (dental surgeons, optometrists, osteopaths, surgical podiatrists). Only those MSP beneficiaries with premium assistance status qualify for MSP coverage of physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic, naturopathy, acupuncture and non-surgical podiatry services. In 2009-2010, there were 164 midwives and 5,753 supplementary benefits practitioners (including acupuncturists) paid FFS through MSP.

A physician may choose not to enrol or to de-enrol with the Medical Services Commission (MSC or the Commission). Enrolled physicians may cancel their enrolment by giving 30 days written notice to the Commission. Patients are responsible for the full cost of services provided by non-enrolled physicians. In 2009-2010, MSP had 5 opted-out physicians and 2 non-participating physicians.

Enrolled physicians can elect to be paid directly by patients by giving written notice to the Commission. The Commission will specify the effective date between 30 and 45 days following receipt of the notice. In this case, patients may apply to MSP for reimbursement of the fee for insured services rendered.

Under the Master Agreement between the government, MSC and the British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA), modifications to the Payment Schedule such as additions, deletions or fee changes are made by the Commission, upon advice from the BCMA. Physicians who wish to modify the payment schedule must submit proposals to the BCMA Tariff Committee. On recommendation of the Tariff Committee, interim listings may be designated by the Commission for new procedures or other services for a limited period of time while definitive listings are established.

During fiscal year 2009-2010, physician services which were added as MSP insured benefits included 66 new fee items which reflect current practice standards, for example:

  • GP Office Visit for H1N1 virus (cancelled December 15, 2009)
  • Telephone advice regarding H1N1 virus (cancelled January 18, 2010)
  • Transjugular intrahepatic porto-systemic shunt (TIPS)
  • Osteocapsular arthroplasy (elbow, open, or arthroscopic)
  • Blepharoplasty, simple, non-cosmetic (bilateral)
  • Blepharoplasty, complicated, non-cosmetic (bilateral)
  • Reduction mammoplasty for hypermastia (bilateral)
  • Outstanding ears--bilateral otoplasy
  • Percutaneous transcatheter cardiac occluder device closure of ASD--for patients over 18 years of age--composite fee
  • Percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty for aortic stenosis--composite fee
  • Percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty for congenital or rheumatic mitral stenosis--composite fee

In 2009, the Medicare Protection Act was amended to strengthen the definition of prescribed agency in section 36 of the Act to mean a "corporation or other body." As previously enacted, section 36 only referred to a prescribed agency as a "body." This amendment to the Act clarifies the Commission's authority to audit doctors and health care practitioners for these claims by corporations such as Work Safe BC or the Insurance Corporation of BC just as if they were MSP claims.

In 2009, the Medical and Health Care Services Regulation was amended to:

  • bring into force section 11 of the Health Statutes Amendment Act;
  • set criteria for disclosing prescribed information to beneficiaries and the public under section 49 of the Medicare Protection Act through the Disclosure of Prescribed Information Regulation;
  • adjust MSP premiums;
  • adjust income eligibility for premium assistance; and
  • exclude income from Registered Disability Savings Plans in determining premium assistance eligibility.

In 2010, the Medical and Health Care Services Regulation was amended to permit medical practitioners from other provinces to order diagnostic services in British Columbia for eligible residents, and to increase MSP premium rates.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Surgical-dental services are covered by MSP when hospitalization is medically required for the safe and proper completion of surgery and when they are listed in the Dental Payment Schedule. Additions or changes to the list of insured services are managed by MSP on the advice of the Dental Liaison Committee. Additions and changes must be approved by the MSC. Included as insured surgical-dental procedures are those related to remedying a disorder of the oral cavity or a functional component of mastication. Generally this would include: oral surgery related to trauma; orthognathic surgery; medically required extractions; and surgical treatment of temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

Any general dental and/or oral surgeon in good standing with the College of Dental Surgeons and enrolled in the MSP may provide insured surgical-dental services in hospital. There were 243 dentists (includes only oral surgeons, dental surgeons, oral medicine and orthodontists) enrolled with MSP and billing FFS in 2009-2010. No new insured surgical-dental services were added during the fiscal year 2009-2010.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician And Surgical-dental Services

For out-patients, take-home drugs and certain hospital drugs are not insured, except those provided under the provincial PharmaCare program. Other procedures not insured under the Hospital Insurance Act include: services of medical personnel not employed by the hospital; treatment for which Worksafe BC, the Department of Veterans Affairs or any other agency is responsible; services solely for the alteration of appearance; and reversal of sterilization procedures.

Uninsured hospital services also include: preferred accommodation at the patient's request; televisions, telephones and private nursing services; preferred medical/surgical supplies; dental care that could be provided in a dental office including prosthetic and orthodontic services; and, preferred services provided to patients of extended care units or hospitals.

Services not insured under the MSP include: those covered by the Workers' Compensation Act or by other federal or provincial legislation; provision of non-implanted prostheses; orthotic devices; proprietary or patent medicines; any medical examinations that are not medically required; oral surgery rendered in a dentist's office; telephone advice unrelated to insured visits; reversal of sterilization procedures; in vitro fertilization; medico-legal services; and most cosmetic surgeries.

Medical necessity, as determined by the attending physician and hospital, is the basis for access to hospital and medical services.

The Medicare Protection Act (Section 45) prohibits the sale or issuance of health insurance by private insurers to patients for services that would be benefits if performed by a practitioner. Section 17 prohibits persons from being charged for a benefit or for "materials, consultations, procedures, and use of an office, clinic or other place or for any other matters that relate to the rendering of a benefit."

The Ministry of Health Services responds to complaints made by patients and takes appropriate actions to correct situations identified to the Ministry. The MSC determines which services are benefits and has the authority to de-list insured services. Proposals to de-insure services must be made to the Commission. Consultation may take place through a sub-committee of the Commission and usually includes a review by the BCMA's Tariff Committee. No services were de-listed in 2009-2010.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Section 7 of the Medicare Protection Act defines the eligibility and enrolment of beneficiaries for insured services. Part 2 of the Medical and Health Care Services Regulation made under the Medicare Protection Act details residency requirements.

A person must be a resident of British Columbia to qualify for provincial health care benefits.

The Medicare Protection Act, in Section 1, defines a resident as a person who:

  • is a citizen of Canada or is lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence;
  • makes his or her home in British Columbia;
  • is physically present in British Columbia at least six months in a calendar year; and
  • is deemed under the regulations to be a resident.

Certain other individuals, such as some holders of permits issued under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act are deemed to be residents (see Section 3.3 of report), but this does not include a tourist or visitor to British Columbia.

New residents or persons re-establishing residence in British Columbia are eligible for coverage after completing a waiting period that normally consists of the balance of the month of arrival plus two months. For example, if an eligible person arrives during the month of July, coverage is available October 1. If absences from Canada exceed a total of 30 days during the waiting period, eligibility for coverage may be affected.

All residents are entitled to hospital and medical care insurance coverage. Those residents who are members of the Canadian Forces, appointed members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or serving a term of imprisonment in a penitentiary as defined in the Penitentiary Act, are eligible for federally funded health insurance.

The Medical Services Plan (MSP) provides first-day coverage to discharged members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Forces, and to those returning from an overseas tour of duty, as well as to released inmates of federal penitentiaries.

The number of residents registered with MSP as of March 31, 2010, was 4,469,177.

3.2 Other Categories of Individual

Holders of Minister's Permits, Temporary Resident Permits, study permits, and work permits are eligible for benefits when deemed to be residents under the Medicare Protection Act and Section 2 of the Medical and Health Care Services Regulation.

3.3 Premiums

The enabling legislation for the payment of premiums is:

  • Medicare Protection Act (British Columbia), Part 2 -- Beneficiaries section 8
  • Medical and Health Care Services Regulation (British Columbia) Part 3 -- Premiums

Enrolment in MSP is mandatory and payment of premiums is ordinarily a requirement for coverage. However, failure to pay premiums is not a barrier to coverage for those who meet the basic enrolment eligibility criteria. Monthly premiums for MSP were $54 for one person, $96 for a family of two, and $108 for a family of three or more. Since January 1, 2010, monthly rates have been $57 for one person, $102 for a family of two, and $114 for a family of three or more.

Residents with limited incomes may be eligible for premium assistance. There are five levels of assistance, ranging from 20 to 100 per cent of the full premium.

Premium assistance is available only to beneficiaries who, for the last 12 consecutive months, have resided in Canada and are either a Canadian citizen or holder of permanent resident (landed immigrant) status under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (federal).

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

New residents or persons re-establishing residence in British Columbia are eligible for coverage after completing a waiting period that normally consists of the balance of the month of arrival plus two months. For example, if an eligible person arrives during the month of July, coverage is available October 1. If absences from Canada exceed a total of 30 days during the waiting period, eligibility for coverage may be affected. New residents from other parts of Canada are advised to maintain coverage with their former medical plan during the waiting period.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences In Canada

Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Medical and Health Care Services Regulation of the Medicare Protection Act define portability provisions for persons temporarily absent from British Columbia with regard to insured services. In 2009-2010, there were no amendments to the Medical and Health Care Services Regulation with respect to portability provisions.

Individuals leaving the province temporarily on extended vacations, or for temporary employment, may be eligible for coverage for up to 24 months. Approval is limited to once in five years for absences exceeding six months in a calendar year. Residents who spend part of every year outside British Columbia must be physically present in Canada at least six months in a calendar year and continue to maintain their home in British Columbia in order to retain coverage. When a beneficiary stays outside British Columbia longer than the approved period, they will be required to fulfill a waiting period upon returning to the province before coverage can be renewed. Students attending a recognized school in another province or territory on a full-time basis are entitled to coverage for the duration of their studies.

According to inter-provincial and inter-territorial reciprocal billing arrangements, physicians, except in Quebec, bill their own medical plans directly for services rendered to eligible British Columbia residents, upon presentation of a valid MSP CareCard. British Columbia then reimburses the province or territory at the rate of the fee schedule in the province or territory in which services were rendered. For in-patient hospital care, charges are paid at the standard ward rate actually charged by the hospital. For out-patient services, the payment is at the interprovincial and inter-territorial reciprocal billing rate. Payment for these services, except for excluded services that are billed to the patient, is handled though inter-provincial and inter-territorial reciprocal billing procedures. In 2009-2010, the amount paid to physicians for services provided to residents in another province or territory was $29.5 million.

Quebec does not participate in reciprocal billing agreements for physician services. As a result, claims for services provided to British Columbia beneficiaries by Quebec physicians must be handled individually. When travelling in Quebec or outside of Canada, the beneficiary is usually required to pay for medical services and seek reimbursement later from MSP.

British Columbia pays host provincial rates for insured services according to rates established by the Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The enabling legislation that defines portability of health insurance during temporary absences outside Canada is stated in the Hospital Insurance Act, s. 24; the Hospital Insurance Act Regulations, Division 6; the Medicare Protection Act, s. 51; and the Medical and Health Care Service Regulation, ss. 3, 4, 5. The Medical and Health Care Services Regulation was amended by British Columbia Reg. 111/2005. The relevant issues addressed by the amendments are as follows:

  • Residents who leave BC temporarily to attend school or university may be eligible for MSP coverage for the duration of their studies, provided they are in full-time attendance at a recognized educational facility and are enrolled in a program which leads to a degree or certificate recognized in Canada. Generally, beneficiaries who have been studying outside BC must return to the province by the end of the month following the month in which studies are completed. Any student who will not return to BC within that timeframe, and who has been away for less than 24 months, should contact MSP.
  • Residents who spend part of every year outside BC must be physically present in Canada at least six months in a calendar year and continue to maintain their home in BC in order to retain coverage. However, because of increasing demand for a specialized and mobile work force employed for short-term contracts and assignments, exceptions may be made to enable coverage for up to 24 consecutive months of absence while temporarily outside BC. Approval is limited to once in five years for absences that exceed six months in a calendar year. In addition, if a person's employment requires them to routinely travel outside BC for more than six months per calendar year, they can apply for approval to maintain their eligibility.
  • British Columbia residents who are temporarily absent from British Columbia and cannot return due to extenuating health circumstances are deemed residents for an additional 12 months if they are visiting in Canada or abroad. This also applies to the person's spouse and children, provided they are with the person and they are also residents or deemed residents.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

No prior approval is required for elective procedures that are covered under the inter-provincial reciprocal agreements with other provinces. Prior approval from the Medical Services Commission is required for procedures that are not covered under the reciprocal agreements.

The physician services excluded under the Inter-Provincial Agreements for the Reciprocal Processing of Out-of-Province Medical Claims are: surgery for alteration of appearance (cosmetic surgery); gender reassignment surgery; surgery for reversal of sterilization; therapeutic abortions; routine periodic health examinations including routine eye examinations; in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination; acupuncture, acupressure, transcutaneous electro-nerve stimulation (TENS), moxibustion, biofeedback, hypnotherapy; services to persons covered by other agencies (e.g., RCMP, Canadian Armed Forces, Workers' Compensation Board, Department of Veterans Affairs, Correctional Services of Canada); services requested by a "third party"; team conference(s); genetic screening and other genetic investigation, including DNA probes; procedures still in the experimental/developmental phase; and anaesthetic services and surgical assistant services associated with all of the foregoing.

The services on this list may or may not be reimbursed by the home province. The patient should make enquiries of that home province after direct payment to the British Columbia physician. Some treatments (e.g., treatment for anorexia) may require the approval of the Health Authorities Division of the Ministry of Health Services.

All non-emergency procedures performed outside Canada require approval from the Commission before the procedure.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access To Insured Health Services

Beneficiaries in British Columbia, as defined in section 1 of the Medicare Protection Act, are eligible for all insured hospital and medical care services as required. To ensure equal access to all, regardless of income, the Medicare Protection Act, sections 17 and 18, prohibits extra-billing by enrolled practitioners.

Access To Insured Physician And Dental-Surgical Services:

In 2009-2010, approximately 2,900 general practitioners (GPs) and specialists received all or part of their income through British Columbia's Alternative Payments Program (APP).

APP funds regional health authorities to hire salaried physicians or contract with physicians in order to deliver insured clinical services.

The Ministry implemented several programs under the 2002 Subsidiary Agreement for Physicians in Rural Practice, which were continued in the recently signed Physician Master Agreements (PMA) to enhance the availability and stability of physician services in smaller urban, rural and remote areas of British Columbia.

These programs include:

  • Rural Retention Program, which provides eligible physicians (estimated at 1,300) with fee premiums. It is available to resident, visiting physicians and locums, and also provides a flat fee sum for eligible physicians who reside and practice in a rural community.
  • Northern and Isolation Travel Assistance Outreach Program, which provides funding support for approved physicians who visit rural and isolated communities to provide medical service(s). This program funded an estimated 3,289 visits in 2009-2010 by family doctors and specialists to rural communities.
  • Rural General Practitioner Locum Program, which assists rural general practitioners in taking reasonable periods of leave from their practices by providing up to 43 days of paid locum coverage per year. This program assisted physicians in approximately 56 small communities to attend continuing medical education, and also provided vacation relief.
  • Rural Specialist Locum Program, which assists rural specialists in taking vacations and continuing medical education by providing paid locum support. The program provided locum support for core specialists in 10 rural communities to provide vacation relief and assistance while physician recruitment efforts were underway.
  • Rural Education Action Plan, which supports the training needs of physicians in rural practice. This program supports training in physicians' rural practices through several components, including rural practice experience for medical students and enhanced skills for practicing physicians.
  • Isolation Allowance Fund, which provides funding to communities with fewer than four physicians and no hospital, and where the Medical On-Call/ Availability Program, call-back, or Doctor of the Day payments is not available.
  • Rural Loan Forgiveness Program, which decreases British Columbia student loans by 20 per cent for each year of rural practice for physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, midwives and pharmacists.

The Full-Service Family Practice Incentive Program has been expanded as the Ministry of Health Services and physicians continue to work together to develop incentives aimed at helping to support and sustain full service family practice. In 2009-2010, further new and revised fees were in place to support general practitioners in providing primary care to their patients. As of March 31, 2010, 2,599 GPs billed the Annual Complex Care fee (14033) for 115,086 patients, and 2,081 GPs participated in the Mental Health Planning Fee, developing a mental health plan for 59,775 patients. There were 5 conferencing and planning fees available and billed for 25,228 patients in facilities, acute care, or palliative care.

Infrastructure and Capital Planning:

British Columbia continues to make strategic investments in health sector capital infrastructure.

The Ministry of Health Services invests annually to renew and extend the asset life of existing health facilities, medical and diagnostic equipment, and information management technology at numerous health facilities across British Columbia. In addition, the Ministry of Health Services has committed to a significant number of major capital projects at hospitals in Victoria, Surrey, Abbotsford, Vancouver, Prince George, Vernon, Kelowna and Fort St. John, developed as public private partnerships.

The province is constructing a new cancer treatment centre in Prince George and a new cardiac care centre in Kelowna. These projects represent an extension of strategic health services and reduce the need for patients to travel to the Vancouver area for treatment.

Major capital projects are now overseen by project boards comprised of senior executives from health authorities and government to ensure projects are appropriately defined and stay within their approved scope, cost and completion schedules.

The Ministry of Health Services is developing and maintaining a ten year capital plan to ensure health infrastructure is maintained and renewed within expected asset lifecycle timelines.

5.2 Physician Compensation

Through negotiations with the British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA), British Columbia established the compensation and benefit structure for physicians who perform publicly funded medical procedures. The total funding in 2009-2010 for physician compensation expenditures was $3.29 billion (this figure does not include expenditures for supplementary benefits, out-of-province services, and midwives.)

In 2007, as provided for by the 2006 Letter of Agreement, the province and the BCMA concluded negotiations for a Physician Master Agreement (PMA). The PMA remains in effect until 2012. In addition to the PMA, the province and the BCMA also have five subsidiary agreements: General Practitioners Subsidiary Agreement; Specialists Sub- sidiary Agreement; Rural Practice Subsidiary Agreement; Alternative Payments Subsidiary Agreement; and Benefits Subsidiary Agreement. These agreements address matters unique to each aspect of medicine addressed by an individual subsidiary agreement. All five subsidiary agreements terminate in 2012, along with the PMA.

Being long-term, the PMA provides support for a more structured relationship between the BCMA and the province than had been in place previously. Health authorities have a larger role in making decisions which affect health care in their respective regions. A main focus of the PMA is the establishment of mechanisms which promote enhanced collaboration and accountabilities between the province and the BCMA. Key to the success of these mechanisms is a strengthened conflict resolution process.

British Columbia anticipates additional benefits from the new PMA structure including: efficiencies stemming from the amalgamation of most agreements with the BCMA into a single agreement framework; streamlining committee structure and communication; providing a formal conflict management process which addresses issues at both the local and provincial levels; limiting physician service withdrawals; and establishing a structured process for physicians wishing to change their method of compensation to better align with strategies and priorities of the province and of health authorities.

Effective April 1, 2009, physician compensation rates were increased by 3 per cent. Over the life of the PMA, the province also provides financial support targeted towards: increasing rural physician incentive programs; providing for new fee items; increasing physician benefit programs; supporting full service family practices; and improving information technology and promoting eHealth initiatives.

The province and the BC Dental Association (BCDA) negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding in 2007 that is effective through March 2010 and covers the following services: dental surgery; oral surgery; orthodontic services; oral medicine; and dental technical procedures. Fee schedules for these services increased 3 per cent in April 2008. Both the province and the BCDA agree to meet through a Joint Dental Surgery Policy Committee for the duration of the agreement.

Medical practitioners are licensed under the Medical Practitioners Act. A payment schedule for medical practitioners is established under Section 26 of the Medicare Protection Act and is referred to in the Second Master Agreement between the Government of the Province of British Columbia, the Medical Services Commission, and the British Columbia Medical Association. Dentists were licensed under the Dentists Act in fiscal 2008-2009. In April 2009, dentists were regulated under the Health Professions Act.

Compensation methods for physicians and dentists

Payment for medical services delivered in the province is made through the Medical Services Plan (MSP) to individual physicians, based on submitted claims, and through the APP to health authorities for physicians' services. Over 75 per cent of medical expenditures were distributed as fee-for-service and 11 per cent were distributed as alternative payments. Of the alternative payments, 77 per cent were distributed through contracts, 21 per cent as sessions (3.5-hour units of service) and 2 per cent as salaried arrangements. The government funds health authorities for alternative payments; it does not pay physicians directly. In British Columbia, for dentistry services, MSP pays for medically required dental services and medically required dental surgical services performed in a hospital; the rest is self-pay.

5.3 Payments to Hospitals

Funding for hospital services is included in the annual funding allocation and payments made to regional health authorities. This funding allocation is to be used to fund the full range of necessary health services for the population of the region (or for specific provincial services, for the population of British Columbia), including the provision of hospital services.

While the hospitals' portion of the funding allocation is normally not specified, the exception to this rule is funding targeted for specific priority projects (e.g., reduction in wait times for hips and knees). For these initiatives, funding is specifically earmarked and must be reported on separately.

Annual funding allocations to health authorities are determined as part of the Ministry of Health Service's annual budget process in consultation with Ministry of Health Services, the Ministry of Finance, and Treasury Board. The final funding amount is conveyed to health authorities by means of an annual funding letter.

The accountability mechanisms associated with government funding for hospitals are part of several comprehensive documents which set expectations for health authorities. These are the annual funding letter, annual service plans, and annual Government Letters of Expectations. Taken together, these documents convey the Ministry's broad expectations for health authorities and explain how performance will be monitored in relation to these expectations.

The Hospital Insurance Act and its related regulations govern payments made by the health care plan to health authorities. This statute establishes the authority of the Minister to make payments to hospitals, and specifies in broad terms what services are insured when provided within a hospital.

Amendments were made during 2009-2010 to the Hospital Insurance Act Regulations, described in Section 2.1 of this report. One amendment defined a new co-payment rate structure for accommodation in extended care facilities.

Insured hospital services are included within the annual funding allocations to health authorities, as well as specific targeted funding from time to time. Incremental funding is allocated to health authorities using the Ministry of Health Services' Population Needs-Based Funding Formula and other funding allocation methodologies (e.g., to reflect targeted funding allocations directed to specific health authorities).

In 2009-2010, a full continuum of care (acute, residential, community care, public and preventive health, adult mental health, addictions programs, etc.) was provided.

The annual funding allocation to health authorities does not include funding for programs directly operated by the Ministry of Health Services, such as the payments to physicians and payments for prescription drugs covered under PharmaCare.

6.0 Recognition Given To Federal Transfers

Funding provided by the federal government through the Canada Health Transfer is recognized and reported by the Government of British Columbia through various government websites and provincial government documents.

In 2009-2010, these documents included:

Registered Persons
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Number as of March 31st (#). 4,216,199 4,279,734 4,335,676 4,402,540 4,469,177
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province Or Territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
2. Number (#). 137 139 139 139 1401
3. Payments for insured health services ($)2. not available not available not available not available not available
Private For-Profit Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#). 19 22 not available not available not available
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($). not available not available not available not available not available
Insured Hospital Services Provided To Residents In Another Province Or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 6,517 7,172 7,160 7,102 6,846
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 49,899,859 65,678,542 55,309,733 64,550,692 64,655,739
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 77,537 81,878 95,677 95,326 87,948
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 14,089,042 17,937,647 19,088,368 24,262,195 24,188,890
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 2,345 1,858 1,603 1,963 3,056
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 4,248,649 3,452,739 14,486,341 11,811,654 6,058,867
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 1,247 960 1,215 1,630 1,920
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 770,215 453,698 553,661 967,704 1,174,112
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province Or Territory
Public Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
14. Number of participating physicians (#). 8,4543 8,6263 8,7723 8,9863 9,2013
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#). 6 5 5 5 5
16. Number of non-participating physicians (#). 1 1 2 2 2
17. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods ($). not available not available not available not available not available
18. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service ($). 2,032,708,002 2,134,722,094 2,232,042,6434 2,329,852,6154 2,451,652,7044
Insured Physician Services Provided To Residents In Another Province Or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
19. Number of services (#). 674,829 869,076 724,889 735,811 620,882
20. Total payments ($). 25,801,010 27,402,618 26,463,867 28,702,280 29,500,177
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 76,146 80,810 84,196 82,065 40,819
22. Total payments ($). 3,471,693 3,739,839 4,379,167 4,366,676 2,198,107
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 238 234 245 249 243
24. Number of services provided (#). 41,965 44,015 43,262 46,736 50,341
25. Total payments ($). 5,833,105 6,087,395 6,305,343 7,289,302 8,093,266

General information for items 1-2: Historical and current data may differ from report to report because of changes in data sources, definitions and methodology from year to year. The count of facilities in this table may not match counts produced from the Discharge Abstract Database, the MIS reporting system, or the Societies Act because each reporting system has different approaches to counting multiple site facilities and categorizing them by function.
1 The number of public facilities in this table excludes psychiatric hospitals.
2 BC Ministry of Health Services Funding to Health Authorities for the provision of the full range of regionally delivered services are as follows: $4.59 billion in 1999-2000, $5.20 billion in 2000-2001, $5.62 billion in 2001-2002, $6.06 billion in 2002-2003, $6.21 billion in 2003-04, $6.25 billion in 2004-2005, $6.62 billion in 2005-2006, $7.1 billion in 2006-2007, $ 7.64 billion in 2007--2008, $ 8.2 billion in 2008-2009, and $ 8.6 billion in 2009-10.
3 The number of participating physicians in item 14. is for physicians who received payments through Fee-For-Service.
4 The MSP Fee-For-Service payments for 2007/2008, 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 listed in item 18. include all retroactive fee increases paid up to and including September 30, 2010.

Yukon

Introduction

The health care insurance plans operated by the Government of Yukon Territory are the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan (YHCIP) and the Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Plan (YHISP). The YHCIP is administered by the Director, as appointed by the Executive Council Member (Minister). The YHISP is administered by the Administrator, as appointed by the Commissioner in Executive Council (Commissioner of the Yukon Territory). The Director of the YHCIP and the Administrator of the YHISP are hereafter referred to as the Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services. References in this text to the "Plan" refer to either the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan or the Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Plan.

The objective of the Yukon health care system is to ensure access to, and portability of, insured physician and hospital services according to the provisions of the Health Care Insurance Plan Act and the Hospital Insurance Services Act. The Minister, Department of Health and Social Services, is responsible for delivering all insured health care services. Service delivery is administered centrally by the Department of Health and Social Services.

Other insured services provided to eligible Yukon residents include the Travel for Medical Treatment Program; the Chronic Disease and Disability Benefits Program; the Pharmacare and Extended Benefits Programs; and the Children's Drug and Optical Program. Non-insured health service programs include Continuing Care; Community Nursing; Community Health; and Mental Health Services.

Health care initiatives in Yukon target areas such as access and availability of services, recruitment and retention of health care professionals, primary health care, systems development and alternative payment and service delivery systems. Specifically:

  • Primary care initiatives are proceeding that will broaden and strengthen service delivery and modernize and improve system capabilities.

These initiatives include:

  • work with the Yukon Medical Association to find solutions for a number of Yukon residents without a family physician continues;
  • Yukon has recruited a broader base of visiting specialists to provide services at the Visiting Specialist Clinic;
  • the Diabetes Collaborative, which helps physicians provide improved care for patients with diabetes, is moving to another phase that will see an expansion to other chronic conditions (CHF, COPD, hypertension, kidney disease) as well as diabetes in Whitehorse and communities.

Some of the major challenges facing the advancement of insured health care service delivery in Yukon are:

  • effective linkages and coordination of existing services and service providers;
  • recruitment and retention of qualified health care professionals;
  • increasing costs related to service delivery;
  • increasing costs related to changing demographics; and
  • acquiring and maintaining new and advanced high-technology diagnostic and treatment equipment.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

The Health Care Insurance Plan Act, sections 3(2) and 4, establishes the public authority to operate the health medical care plan. There were no amendments made to these sections of the legislation in 2009-2010.

The Hospital Insurance Services Act, sections 3(1) and 5, establishes the public authority to operate the health hospital care plan. There were no amendments made to these sections of the legislation in 2009-2010.

Subject to the Health Care Insurance Plan Act (section 5) and regulations, the mandate and function of the Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, is to:

  • develop and administer the Plan;
  • determine eligibility for entitlement to insured health services;
  • register persons in the Plan;
  • make payments under the Plan, including the determination of eligibility and amounts;
  • determine the amounts payable for insured health services outside Yukon;
  • establish advisory committees and appoint individuals to advise or assist in operating the Plan;
  • conduct actions and negotiate settlements in the exercise of the Government of Yukon's right of subrogation under this Act to the rights of insured persons;
  • conduct surveys and research programs and obtain statistics for such purposes;
  • determine the information required under this Act and the form such information must take;
  • appoint inspectors and auditors to examine and obtain information from medical records, reports and accounts; and
  • perform such other functions and discharge such other duties as are assigned by the Executive Council Member under this Act.

Subject to the Hospital Insurance Services Act (section 6) and regulations, the mandate and function of the Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, is to:

  • develop and administer the hospital insurance plan;
  • determine eligibility for and entitlement to insured services;
  • determine the amounts that may be paid for the cost of insured services provided to insured persons;
  • enter into agreements on behalf of the Government of Yukon with hospitals in or outside Yukon, or with the Government of Canada or any province or an appropriate agency thereof, for the provision of insured services to insured persons;
  • approve hospitals for the purposes of this Act;
  • conduct surveys and research programs and obtain statistics for such purposes;
  • appoint inspectors and auditors to examine and obtain information from hospital records, reports and accounts;
  • prescribe the forms and records necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act; and
  • perform such other functions and discharge such other duties as may be assigned by the regulations.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The Department of Health and Social Services is accountable to the Legislative Assembly and the Government of Yukon through the Minister.

Section 6 of the Health Care Insurance Plan Act and section 7 of the Hospital Insurance Services Act require that the Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, make an annual report to the Executive Council Member respecting the administration of the two health insurance plans. A Statement of Revenue and Expenditures is tabled in the legislature and is subject to discussion at that level.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The Health Care Insurance Plan and the Hospital Insurance Services Plan are subject to audit by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. The Auditor General of Canada is the auditor of the Government of Yukon in accordance with section 30 of the Yukon Act (Canada). The Auditor General is required to conduct an annual audit of the transactions and consolidated financial statements of the Government of Yukon. Further, the Auditor General of Canada is to report to the Yukon Legislative Assembly any matter falling within the scope of the audit that, in his or her opinion, should be reported to the Assembly.

The most recent audit was for the year ended March 31, 2010.

Regarding the Yukon Hospital Corporation, section 13(2) of the Hospital Act requires every hospital to submit a report of the operations of the Corporation for that fiscal year; the report is to include the financial statements of the Corporation and the auditor's report. The report is to be provided to the Department of Health and Social Services within six months of the end of each fiscal year.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

The Hospital Insurance Services Act, sections 3, 4, 5 and 9, establish authority to provide insured hospital services to insured residents. The Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Ordinance was first passed in 1960 and came into effect April 9, 1960. There were no amendments made to these sections of the legislation in 2009-2010.

In 2009-2010, insured in-patient and out-patient hospital services were delivered in 15 facilities throughout the territory. These facilities include one general hospital, one hospital and 13 health centres.

Adopted on December 7, 1989, the Hospital Act establishes the responsibility of the legislature and the government to ensure "compliance with appropriate methods of operation and standards of facilities and care". Adopted on November 11, 1994, the Hospital Standards Regulation sets out the conditions under which all hospitals in the territory are to operate. Section 4(1) provides for the Ministerial appointment of one or more investigators to report on the management and administration of a hospital. Section 4(2) requires that the hospital's Board of Trustees establish and maintain a quality assurance program. Currently, the Yukon Hospital Corporation is operated under a three-year accreditation through the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation. The surveyors did an accreditation review for renewal in May 2010.

The Yukon government assumed responsibility for operating health centres from the federal government in April 1997. These facilities, including the Watson Lake Cottage Hospital, operate in compliance with the adopted Medical Services Branch Scope of Practice for Community Health Nurses/Nursing Station Facility/ Health Centre Treatment Facility, and the Community Health Nurse Scope of Practice. The General Duty Nurse Scope of Practice was completed and implemented in February 2002.

Pursuant to the Hospital Insurance Services Regulations, sections 2(e) and (f ), services provided in an approved hospital are insured. Section 2(e) defines in-patient insured services as all of the following services to in-patients, namely: accommodation and meals at the standard or public ward level; necessary nursing service; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures together with the necessary interpretations for the purpose of maintaining health, preventing disease and assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of an injury, illness or disability; drugs, biologicals and related preparations as provided in Schedule B of the regulations, when administered in the hospital; use of operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities, including necessary equipment and supplies; routine surgical supplies; use of radiotherapy facilities where available; use of physiotherapy facilities where available; and services rendered by persons who receive remuneration therefore from the hospital.

Section 2(f) of the regulations defines "outpatient insured services" as all of the following services to out-patients, when used for emergency diagnosis or treatment within 24 hours of an accident, which period may be extended by the Administrator, provided the service could not be obtained within 24 hours of the accident, namely: necessary nursing service; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures, together with the necessary interpretations for the purpose of assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of an injury; drugs, biologicals and related preparations as provided in Schedule B, when administered in a hospital; use of operating room and anaesthetic facilities, including necessary equipment and supplies; routine surgical supplies; services rendered by persons who receive remuneration therefore from the hospital; use of radiotherapy facilities where available; and use of physiotherapy facilities where available.

Pursuant to the Hospital Insurance Services Regulations, all in- and out-patient services provided in an approved hospital by hospital employees are insured services. Standard nursing care, pharmaceuticals, supplies, diagnostic and operating services are provided. Any new programs or enhancements with significant funding implications or reductions to services or programs require the prior approval of the Minister, Department of Health and Social Services. This process is managed by the Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services. Public representation regarding changes in service levels is made through membership on the hospital board.

Additional funds have been provided to Yukon to assist patients with recourse options who have orthopaedic (knees and hip) or ophthalmology surgery requirements.

These measures will help reduce Yukon's reliance on out-of-territory services.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

Sections 1 to 8 of the Health Care Insurance Plan Act and sections 2, 3, 7, 10 and 13 of the Health Care Insurance Plan Regulations provide for insured physician services. There were no amendments made to these sections of the legislation in 2009-2010.

The Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan covers physicians providing medically required services. The conditions a physician must meet to participate in the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan are to:

  • register for licensure pursuant to the Medical Professions Act; and
  • maintain licensure, pursuant to the Medical Professions Act.

The number of resident physicians participating in the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan in 2009-2010 was 69.

Section 7(5) of the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan Regulations allows physicians in Yukon to bill patients directly for insured services by giving notice in writing of this election. In 2009-2010, no physicians provided written notice of their election to collect fees other than from the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan.

Insured physician services in Yukon are defined as medically required services rendered by a medical practitioner.

The process used to add a new fee to the Payment Schedule for Yukon is administered through a committee structure. This process requires physicians to submit requests in writing to the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan/Yukon Medical Association Liaison Committee.

Following review by this committee, a decision is made to include or exclude the service. The relevant costs or fees are normally set in accordance with similar costs or fees in other jurisdictions. Once a fee-for-service value has been determined, notification of the service and the applicable fee is provided to all Yukon physicians. Public consultation is not required.

Alternatively, new fees can be implemented as a result of the fee negotiation process between the Yukon Medical Association and the Department of Health and Social Services. The Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, manages this process and no public consultation is required.

There were no new insured physician services added in 2009-2010.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Dentists providing insured surgical-dental services under the health care insurance plan of Yukon must be licensed pursuant to the Dental Professions Act and are given billing numbers to bill the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan for providing insured dental services. The Plan is also billed directly for services provided outside the territory.

Insured dental services are limited to those surgical-dental procedures listed in Schedule B of the regulations and require the unique capabilities of a hospital for their performance (e.g., surgical correction of prognathism or micrognathia).

The addition or deletion of new surgical-dental services to the list of insured services requires amendment by Order-in-Council to Schedule B of the Regulations Respecting Health Care Insurance Services. Coverage decisions are made on the basis of whether or not the service must be provided in hospital under general anaesthesia. The Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, administers this process.

There were no new insured surgical-dental services added in 2009-2010.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Only services prescribed by and rendered in accordance with the Health Care Insurance Plan Act and regulations and the Hospital Insurance Services Act and regulations are insured. All other services are uninsured.

Uninsured hospital services include: non-resident hospital stays; special/private nurses requested by the patient or family; additional charges for preferred accommodation unless prescribed by a physician; crutches and other such appliances; nursing home charges; televisions; telephones; and drugs and biologicals following discharge. (These services are not provided by the hospital.)

Uninsured physician services include: services that are not medically necessary; charges for long distance telephone calls; preparing or providing a drug; advice by telephone at the request of the insured person; medico legal services including examinations and reports; cosmetic services; acupuncture; and experimental procedures.

Section 3 of the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan Regulations contains a non-exhaustive list of services that are prescribed as non-insured.

Uninsured dental services include: procedures considered restorative; and procedures that are not performed in a hospital under general anaesthesia.

All Yukon residents have equal access to services. Third parties, such as private insurers or the Worker's Compensation Health and Safety Board, do not receive priority access to services through additional payment. The purchase of non-insured services, such as fibreglass casts, does not delay or prevent access to insured services at any time. Insured persons are given treatment options at the time of service.

Yukon has no formal process to monitor compliance; however, feedback from physicians, hospital administrators, medical professionals and staff allows the Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, to monitor usage and service concerns.

Physicians in Yukon may bill patients directly for noninsured services. Block fees are not used at this time; however, some do bill by service item. Billable services include, but are not limited to, completion of employment forms; medical-legal reports; transferring records; third party examinations; some elective services; and telephone prescriptions, advice or counselling. Payment does not affect patient access to services because not all physicians or clinics bill for these services and other agencies or employers may cover the cost.

The process used to de-insure services covered by the Yukon Health Insurance Plan is as follows:

  • Physician services -- the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan/Yukon Medical Association Liaison Committee is responsible for reviewing changes to the Payment Schedule for Yukon, including decisions to de-insure certain services. In consultation with the Yukon Medical Advisor, decisions to de-insure services are based on medical evidence that indicates the service is not medically necessary, is ineffective or a potential risk to the patient's health. Once a decision has been made to de-insure a service, all physicians are notified in writing. The Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, manages this process. No services were removed from the Payment Schedule for Yukon in fiscal year 2009-2010.
  • Hospital services -- an amendment by Order- In-Council to section 2(e)(f ) of the Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Regulations would be required. As of March 31, 2010, no insured in-patient or out-patient hospital services, as provided for in the regulations, have been de-insured. The Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, is responsible for managing this process in conjunction with the Yukon Hospital Corporation.
  • Surgical-dental services -- an amendment by Order-In-Council to Schedule B of the Regulations Respecting Health Care Insurance Services is required. A service could be de-insured if determined not medically necessary or is no longer required to be carried out in a hospital under general anaesthesia. The Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, manages this process. No surgical- dental services were de-insured in 2009-2010.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Eligibility requirements for insured health services are set out in the Health Care Insurance Plan Act and regulations, sections 2 and 4 respectively, and the Hospital Insurance Services Act and regulations, sections 2 and 4 respectively. No changes were made to these sections of the legislation in 2009-2010. Subject to the provisions of these acts and regulations, every Yukon resident is eligible for and entitled to insured health services on uniform terms and conditions. The term "resident" is defined using the wording of the Canada Health Act and means a person lawfully entitled to be or to remain in Canada, who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present in Yukon, but does not include a tourist, transient or visitor to the Yukon. Where applicable, the eligibility of all persons is administered in accordance with the Inter- Provincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability.

Under section 4(1) of both regulations, "an insured person is eligible for and entitled to insured services after midnight on the last day of the second month following the month of arrival to the Territory."

Changes affecting eligibility made to the legislation in 2004-2005 require that all persons returning to or establishing residency in Yukon complete the waiting period. The only exception is for children adopted by insured persons.

The following persons are not eligible for coverage in Yukon:

  • persons entitled to coverage from their home province or territory (e.g., students and workers covered under temporary absence provisions);
  • visitors to Yukon;
  • refugee claimants;
  • members of the Canadian Forces;
  • convention refugees;
  • members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP);
  • inmates in federal penitentiaries;
  • study permit holders, unless they are a child and they are listed as the dependent of a person who holds a one year work permit; and
  • employment authorizations of less than one year.

The above persons may become eligible for coverage if they meet one or more of the following conditions:

  • establish residency in Yukon;
  • become a permanent resident; and
  • the day following discharge or release if stationed in or resident in Yukon.

The number of registrants on the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan as of March 31, 2010 was 35,084.

3.2 Other Categories of Individual

The Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan provides health care coverage for other categories of individuals, as follows:

  • Returning Canadians -- waiting period is applied
  • Permanent Residents -- waiting period is applied
  • Minister's Permit -- waiting period is applied, if authorized
  • Foreign Workers -- waiting period is applied, if holding Employment Authorization
  • Clergy -- waiting period is applied, if holding Employment Authorization

Employment Authorizations must be in excess of 12 months.

The estimated number of new individuals receiving coverage in 2009-2010 under the following conditions is:

  • Returning Canadians -- 147
  • Permanent Residents -- 1,038
  • Minister's Permit -- 0
  • Convention Refugees -- 0
  • Armed Forces -- 6
  • RCMP -- 17

The estimated number of individuals receiving coverage in 2009-2010 under the following conditions is:

  • Foreign Workers -- 305
  • Clergy -- 0

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

Pursuant to section 4(1) of the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan Regulations and the Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Regulations, "an insured person is eligible for and entitled to insured services after midnight on the last day of the second month following the month of arrival to the Territory." All persons entitled to coverage are required to complete the minimum waiting period with the exception of children adopted from outside Canada by insured persons (see section 3.1).

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

The provisions relating to portability of health care insurance during temporary absences outside Yukon, but within Canada, are defined in sections 5, 6, 7 and 10 of the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan Regulations and sections 6, 7(1), 7(2) and 9 of the Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Regulations.

The regulations state that, "where an insured person is absent from the Territory and intends to return, he is entitled to insured services during a period of 12 months continuous absence." Persons leaving Yukon for a period exceeding three months are advised to contact the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan and complete a form of "Temporary Absence." Failure to do so may result in cancellation of coverage.

Students attending educational institutions outside Yukon remain eligible for the duration of their academic studies. The Director of Insured Health and Hearing Services may approve other absences in excess of 12 consecutive months upon receiving a written request from the insured person. Requests for extensions must be renewed yearly and are subject to approval by the Director.

For temporary workers and missionaries, the Director of Insured Health and Hearing Services may approve absences in excess of 12 consecutive months upon receiving a written request from the insured person. Requests for extensions must be renewed yearly and are subject to approval by the Director.

The provisions regarding coverage during temporary absences in Canada fully comply with the terms and conditions of the Inter-Provincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability effective February 1, 2001. Definitions are consistent in regulations, policies and procedures.

No amendments were made to these sections of the legislation in 2009-2010.

The Yukon participates fully with the Inter-Provincial Medical Reciprocal Billing Agreements and Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreements in place with all other provinces and territories with the exception of Quebec, which does not participate in the medical reciprocal billing arrangement. Persons receiving medical (physician) services in Quebec may be required to pay directly and submit claims to the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan for reimbursement.

The Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreements provide for payment of insured in-patient and out-patient hospital services to eligible residents receiving insured services outside Yukon, but within Canada.

The Medical Reciprocal Billing Agreements provide for payment of insured physician services on behalf of eligible residents receiving insured services outside Yukon, but within Canada. Payment is made to the host province at the rates established by that province.

Insured services provided to Yukon residents while temporarily absent from the territory, are paid at the rates established by the host province.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The provisions that define portability of health care insurance to insured persons during temporary absences outside Canada are defined in sections 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 and 11 of the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan Regulations and sections 6, 7(1), 7(2) and 9 of the Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Regulations.

No amendments were made to these sections of the legislation in 2009-2010. Sections 5 and 6 state that, "where an insured person is absent from Yukon and intends to return, he is entitled to insured services during a period of 12 months continuous absence."

Persons leaving Yukon for a period exceeding three months are advised to contact Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan and complete a form of "Temporary Absence." Failure to do so may result in cancellation of the coverage.

The provisions for portability of health insurance during out-of-country absences for students, temporary workers and missionaries are the same as for absences within Canada (see section 4.2).

Insured physician services provided to eligible Yukon residents temporarily outside the country are paid at rates equivalent to those paid had the service been provided in Yukon. Reimbursement is made to the insured person by the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan or directly to the provider of the insured service.

Insured in-patient hospital services provided to eligible Yukon residents outside Canada are paid at the rate established in the Standard Ward Rates Regulation for the Whitehorse General Hospital.

Insured out-patient hospital services provided to eligible Yukon residents outside Canada are paid at the rate established in the Charges for Out-Patient Procedures Regulation.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

There is no legislated requirement that eligible residents must seek prior approval before seeking elective or emergency hospital or physician services outside Canada.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

There are no user fees or co-insurance charges under the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan or the Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Plan. All services are provided on a uniform basis and are not impeded by financial or other barriers.

Access to hospital or physician services not available locally are provided through the Visiting Specialist Program, Tele-health Program or the Travel for Medical Treatment Program. These programs ensure that there is minimal or no delay in receiving medically necessary services.

There is no extra-billing in the Yukon for any services covered by the Plan.

5.2 Physician Compensation

The Department of Health and Social Services seeks its negotiating mandate from the Government of Yukon, before entering into negotiations with the Yukon Medical Association (YMA). The YMA and the government each appoint members to the negotiating team. Meetings are held as required until an agreement has been reached. The YMA's negotiating team then seeks approval of the tentative agreement from the YMA membership. The Department seeks ratification of the agreement from the Government of Yukon. The final agreement is signed with the concurrence of both parties.

The Memorandum of Understanding in effect for the time period of this report came into effect April 1, 2008, ending March 31, 2012. That MOU establishes the terms and conditions for payment of physicians.

The legislation governing payments to physicians and dentists for insured services are the Health Care Insurance Plan Act and the Health Care Insurance Plan Regulations. No amendments were made to these sections of the legislation in 2009-2010.

The fee-for-service system is used to reimburse the majority of physicians providing insured services to residents. In 2009-2010, one full-time resident rural physician and four resident specialists were compensated on a contractual basis.

5.3 Payments to Hospitals

The Government of Yukon funds the Yukon Hospital Corporation (Whitehorse General Hospital) through global contribution agreements with the Department of Health and Social Services. Global operations and maintenance (O&M) and capital funding levels are negotiated and adjusted based on operational requirements and utilization projections from prior years. In addition to the established O&M and capital funding set out in the agreement, provision is made for the hospital to submit requests for additional funding assistance for implementing new or enhanced programs.

Only the Whitehorse General Hospital is funded directly through a contribution agreement. The Watson Lake Cottage Hospital and all health centres are funded through the Yukon government's budget process.

The legislation governing payments made by the health care plan to facilities that provide insured hospital services is the Hospital Insurance Services Plan Act and regulations. The legislation and regulations set out the legislative framework for payment to hospitals for insured services provided by that hospital to insured persons. No amendments were made to these sections of the legislation in 2009-2010.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

The Government of Yukon has acknowledged the federal contributions provided through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) in its 2009-2010 annual Main Estimates and Public Accounts publications, which are available publicly. Section 3(1) (d) (e) of the Health Care Insurance Plan Act and section 3 of the Hospital Insurance Services Act acknowledge the contribution of the Government of Canada.

Registered Persons
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 32,226 33,103 33,423 33,983 35,084
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities1
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
2. Number (#). 15 15 15 15 15
3. Payments for insured health services ($). 33,729,869 44,049,050 44,573,638 49,051,490 51,734,000
Private For-Profit Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#). 0 0 0 0 0
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($). 0 0 0 0 0
Insured Hospital Services provided to residents in another province or territory
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 714 738 976 1,013 956
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 8,698,387 8,808,130 10,742,393 11,183,888 15,333,983
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 8,450 8,735 9,027 9,983 12,830
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 1,735,520 2,168,964 2,155,225 2,888,247 3,248,555
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 15 11 15 13 19
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 43,454 20,257 32,075 12,003 67,671
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 55 42 74 40 92
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 8,372 7,101 11,782 8,233 18,862
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
14. Number of participating physicians (#). 64 66 67 67 69
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#). 0 0 0 0 0
16. Number of non-participating physicians (#). 0 0 0 0 0
17. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods ($).2 13,752,251 13,788,028 16,342,282 19,139,117 20,781,850
18. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service ($).2 11,734,280 13,308,761 14,127,399 16,294,365 17,719,117
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
19. Number of services (#). 35,781 39,669 38,512 45,744 50,893
20. Total payments ($). 1,873,508 2,139,805 1,977,052 2,297,501 3,008,828
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). not available not available not available not available not available
22. Total payments ($). not available not available not available not available not available
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory 3
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 6 3 3 4 4
24. Number of services provided (#). 24 5 4 23 4
25. Total payments ($). 25,072 2,887 4,433 25,602 6,271

1. Public facilities are the 13 health centres (Beaver Creek, Destruction Bay, Carcross, Carmacks, Dawson, Faro, Haines Junction, Mayo, Old Crow, Pelly Crossing, Ross River, Teslin and Whitehorse) and 2 hospitals (Whitehorse and Watson Lake).
2. Includes Visiting Specialists, Member Reimbursements, Locum Doctors, and Optometrist testing paid through fee-for-service. Excludes services and costs provided by alternative payment agreements.
3. Includes direct billings for insured surgical-dental services received outside the territory.

Northwest Territories

Introduction

In the Northwest Territories (NWT), the Department of Health and Social Services (henceforth the Department), together with seven Health and Social Services Authorities and the Tlicho Community Services Agency, plan, manage, and deliver a wide spectrum of community and facility-based services for health care and social services.

During the reporting period, the Department undertook several important initiatives, including:

  • The drafting of a new Medical Profession Act. The Act will replace current legislation, as well as modernize the processes for the registration and discipline of medical practitioners in the NWT.
  • The drafting of amendments under the Dental Auxiliaries Act and the Veterinary Profession Act that will amend the qualifications for registration in the NWT. Dental hygienists and veterinarians will be required to successfully complete the requirements of the National Examining Board (veterinarians) and the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board (dental hygienists) as a measure of competence in these professions. The amended registration requirements will help the Government of the Northwest Territories meet labour mobility obligations under the Revised Agreement on Internal Trade.
  • The coming into force of the Water Supply System Regulations under the new Public Health Act. These regulations meet current national standards and requirements, and allow the Chief Public Health Officer to respond effectively in the case of a health hazard linked to the water supply.
  • The coming into force of the Reportable Disease Control Regulations under the new Public Health Act. These regulations are necessary for the control and mitigation of public health risks caused by the spread or potential spread of communicable diseases and serious health conditions.
  • Implementation of the Foundation for Change, an action plan that reforms the delivery of health and social service programs throughout the NWT.
  • An NWT-wide health care card renewal, which allowed the Department to ensure that only eligible NWT residents have coverage.

The Department maintains a bilingual (English and French)  public website (www.hlthss.gov.nt.ca) that provides an exhaustive source of information, including electronic copies of reports published by the Department and public health advisories.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

The NWT Health Care Plan includes the Medical Care Plan and the Hospital Insurance Plan. The public authority responsible for administering the Medical Care Plan is the Director of Medical Insurance as appointed under the Medical Care Act. The Minister administers the Hospital Insurance Plan through Boards of Management established under section 10 of the Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act (HIHSSA).

Legislation that enables the Health Care Insurance Plan in the NWT includes the Medical Care Act and the HIHSSA.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

Reporting to the Minister, the Department, the Health and Social Service Authorities (HSSAs) and the Tlicho Community Services Agency (TCSA) plan, manage, and deliver a wide spectrum of community and facility-based services for health care and social services.

In the NWT, the Minister of Health and Social Services appoints a Director of Medical Insurance. The Director is responsible for administering the Medical Care Act and the regulations and to report to the Minister concerning the operation of the Medical Care Plan.

The Minister also appoints public members to a Board of Management for each HSSA in the NWT. Boards of Management provide NWT residents with the opportunity to shape priorities and service delivery for their communities. The Boards manage, control and operate health and social services facilities within the government's existing resources, policies and directions, and are accountable to the Minister. The Boards' chairpersons hold office indefinitely, while other members hold office for three-year terms. The exception is the TCSA, where every Tlicho community government is responsible for appointing one member to the Board, for a maximum of four years. The Minister responsible for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations will, after consulting with the members appointed by the community governments, appoint a chairperson and fix the length of that term.

An annual audit of accounts is performed on each Board of Management. In addition, the Minister and Deputy Minister have regular meetings with Board of Management chairpersons, which allow the chairpersons to provide non-financial reporting.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The Hospital Insurance Plan and the Medical Care Plan are administered by the Department. The Office of the Auditor General of Canada audits the payments made under each plan, as part of the Government of the Northwest Territories annual audit.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Insured hospital services are provided under the authority of the Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act and the regulations.

During 2009-2010, four hospitals and 23 health centres delivered insured hospital services to both in- and out-patients.

The NWT provides coverage for a full range of insured hospital services consistent with the Canada Health Act. Insured in-patient services include: accommodation and meals at the standard ward level; necessary nursing services; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures together with the necessary interpretations; drugs, biologicals and related preparations prescribed by a physician and administered in hospital; routine surgical supplies; use of operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities; use of radiotherapy and physiotherapy services, where available; psychiatric and psychological services provided under an approved program; services rendered by persons who are paid by the hospital; and services rendered by an approved detoxification centre.

The NWT also provides a number of out-patient services. These include: laboratory tests, x-rays, including interpretations, when requested by a physician and performed in an out-patient facility or in an approved hospital; hospital services in connection with most minor medical and surgical procedures; physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy services in an approved hospital; and psychiatric and psychology services provided under an approved hospital program.

A detailed list of insured in- and out-patient services is contained in the Hospital Insurance Regulations. Section 1 of the Regulations states that, "out-patient insured services" means the following services and supplies are provided to out-patients: laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures together with the necessary interpretations for helping diagnose and treat any injury, illness or disability, but not including simple procedures such as examinations of blood and urine, which ordinarily form part of a physician's routine office examination of a patient; necessary nursing services; drugs, biologicals and related preparations as provided in Schedule B, when administered in a hospital; use of operating room and anaesthetic facilities, including necessary equipment and supplies; routine surgical supplies; services rendered by persons who receive remuneration for those services from a hospital; radiotherapy services within insured facilities; and physiotherapy services within insured facilities.

The Minister may add, change or delete insured hospital services. The Minister also determines if any public consultation will occur before making changes to the list of insured services.

Where medically necessary services are not available in the NWT, travel to hospitals or clinics in other jurisdictions can be approved for residents requiring those services. The NWT provides Medical Travel Assistance (as outlined in the Medical Travel Policy), which ensures that NWT residents have no barriers to accessing medically necessary services. The Department also administers several supplementary health benefits programs.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The NWT Medical Care Act and the NWT Medical Care Regulations provide for insured physician services.

Physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and midwives are allowed to provide insured services under the health care insurance plan. All are required by legislation to be licensed to practice in the NWT under the Medical Profession Act (physicians), Nursing Profession Act (nurses and nurse practitioners), and the Midwifery Profession Act (midwives). As of March 31, 2010, there were approximately 203 licensed physicians, most of whom provide locum services.

A physician may opt-out and collect her or his fees other than under the Medical Care Plan by delivering a written notice to that effect to the Director of Medical Insurance. No physicians had opted-out of the Medical Care Plan as of March 2010.

A wide range of medically necessary services are provided in the NWT. The Medical Care Plan insures all medically required procedures provided by medical practitioners, including: approved diagnostic and therapeutic services; medically necessary surgical services; complete obstetrical care; and eye examinations provided by an ophthalmologist. Visits to specialists are also insured as long as proper referrals and approvals from an approved medical practitioner are provided.

It is the responsibility of the Director of Medical Insurance to prepare and recommend to the Minister a tariff itemizing the benefits payable in respect of insured services. However, it is the Minister who makes the determination to add or delete insured hospital services to the regulations, as follows:

  • establishing a medical care plan that provides insured services to insured persons by medical practitioners that will in all respects qualify and enable the NWT to receive payments of contributions from the Government of Canada under the Canada Health Act; and
  • prescribing rates of fees and charges that may be paid in respect of insured services rendered by medical practitioners whether in or outside the NWT, and the conditions under which the fees and charges are payable.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Only licensed oral surgeons may submit claims for billing. The NWT uses the Province of Alberta's Schedule of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Benefits as a guide.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Services provided by hospitals, physicians and dentists, but not covered by the NWT Health Care Insurance Plan, include: medical-legal services; third-party examinations; services not medically required; group immunization; in vitro fertilization; services provided by a physician to his or her own family; advice or prescriptions given over the telephone; surgery for cosmetic purposes except where medically required; dental services other than those specifically defined for oral surgery; dressings, drugs, vaccines, biologicals and related materials administered in a physician's office; eyeglasses and special appliances; plaster and surgical appliances or special bandages; treatments in the course of chiropractics, podiatry, naturopathy, osteopathy or any other practice ordinarily carried out by persons who are not medical practitioners as defined by the Medical Care Act and regulations; physiotherapy and psychology services received from other than an insured out-patient facility; services covered by the Workers' Compensation Act or by other federal or territorial legislation; and routine annual checkups where there is no definable diagnosis.

In the NWT, applications for prior approval must be made to the Director of Insured Services for uninsured medical goods or services provided in conjunction with an insured health service. A Medical Advisor provides the Director with recommendations regarding the appropriateness of the request.

The  Workers' Safety and Compensation Committee has several policies that are applied when interpreting the Workers' Compensation Act(s). The policies are available on their website at www.wscc.nt.ca.

The NWT Medical Care Act includes Medical Care Regulations and provides for the authority to negotiate changes or deletions to tariffs. The process is described in section 2.2 of this report.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

The Medical Care Act defines the eligibility of NWT residents for the NWT Health Care Insurance Plan.

The NWT uses the Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability in conjunction with the NWT Health Care Plan Registration Guidelines to define eligibility. There were no changes to eligibility for the reporting period.

Ineligible individuals for NWT health care coverage are members of the Canadian Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), federal inmates, and residents who have not completed the minimum waiting period. For persons discharged from the Canadian Forces, RCMP, or a federal penitentiary, or for Canadian citizens returning to the NWT from living outside Canada, coverage is effective the day permanent residency is established.

Registration requirements include a completed application form and supporting documentation as applicable, e.g., visas and immigration papers. The applicant must be prepared to provide proof of residency if requested. Registration should occur before the actual eligibility date of the client. NWT health care cards are valid for a five-year period. Registration and eligibility for coverage are directly linked. Only claims from registered clients are paid.

As of March 2010, there were 39,437 individuals registered with the NWT Health Care Plan.

No formal provisions are in place for clients to opt out of the Health Care Insurance Plan.

3.2 Other Categories of Individual

Holders of employment visas, student visas and, in some cases, visitor visas are covered if they meet the provisions of the Eligibility and Portability Agreement and Guidelines for health care plan coverage.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

There are waiting periods imposed on insured persons moving to the NWT. The waiting periods are consistent with the Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability. Generally, the waiting periods are the first day of the third month of residency for those who move permanently to the NWT, or the first day of the thirteenth month for those with temporary employment of less than 12 months, but who can confirm that the employment period has been extended beyond the 12 months.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

The Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability and the NWT Health Care Plan Registration Guidelines define the portability of health insurance during temporary absences within Canada.

Coverage is provided to students who are temporarily out of the NWT for full-time attendance in a post-secondary institution, and for up to one year for individuals who are temporarily absent from the NWT for work, vacation, etc. Once an individual has completed a Temporary Absence form and been approved by the Department as being temporarily absent from the NWT, the full cost of insured services is paid for all services received in other jurisdictions.

When a valid NWT health care card is produced, most physician visits and hospital care for medically necessary services will be billed directly to the Department. General reimbursement guidelines are in place for patients who are required to pay for medically necessary services up front. During the 2009-2010 fiscal year, over $16 million was paid for in- and out-patient hospital services received in other provinces and territories.

The NWT participates in both the Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreement and the Medical Reciprocal Billing Agreement with other jurisdictions.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The NWT Health Care Plan Registration Guidelines set the criteria to define coverage for absences outside Canada.

Per subsection 11(1)(b)(ii) of the Canada Health Act, the NWT provides personal reimbursement when a NWT resident leaves Canada for a temporary period for personal reasons, such as vacations, and requires medical attention during that time. Individuals are required to cover their own costs and seek reimbursement upon their return to the NWT. Benefits payable are provided in the approved tariff. If services are rendered outside Canada, the benefits payable must not exceed the benefits for insured services rendered in the Territories.

Individuals may be granted coverage for up to a year with prior approval, if they are outside the country. In the eligibility rules, NWT residents may continue their coverage for up to one year if they are leaving Canada, but they must provide extensive information confirming that they are maintaining their permanent residence in the NWT.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

The NWT requires prior approval if coverage is to be considered for elective services in other provinces, territories, and outside the country. Prior approval is also required if insured services are to be obtained from private facilities.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

The Medical Travel Program ensures that economic barriers are reduced for all NWT residents. As per section 14 of the Medical Care Act, extra-billing is not allowed unless the medical practitioner has made an election to collect her or his fees for medical services to insured persons otherwise than under the Medical Care Plan.

Regarding access to insured hospital services, facilities in the NWT offer a range of medical, surgical, rehabilitative, and diagnostic services. The NWT Medical Travel Program ensures through an approval process that residents can access approved necessary services not available in NWT facilities. Through the use of medical travel arrangements, access to services was maintained throughout the year.

During 2009-2010, Telehealth services included a total of 20 units across the NWT.

In terms of access to insured physician and surgical-dental services, all NWT residents have access to all facilities operated by the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT).

Through the Medical Travel Program, the GNWT ensures that residents have access to physicians, while the Telehealth program expands the specialist services available to residents in isolated communities.

5.2 Physician Compensation

Physician compensation is determined through negotiations between the NWT Medical Association and the Department. The majority of family physicians are employed through a contractual arrangement with the GNWT. The remainder provide services through a fee-for-service arrangement. The Medical Care Act and regulations are used in the NWT to govern amounts to be paid to physicians where insured services are provided on a fee-for-service basis.

5.3 Payments to Hospitals

Payments are made to Health and Social Services Authorities (HSSAs) based on contribution agreements between the Boards of Management and the Department. Amounts allocated in the agreements are based on the resources available in the total government budget and level of services provided by the hospital.

Payments to HSSAs providing insured hospital services are governed under the Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act and the Financial Administration Act. No amendments were implemented in 2009-2010 to provisions involving payments to facilities. A comprehensive budget is used to fund hospitals in the NWT.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

Federal funding received through the Canada Health Transfer has been recognized and reported by the Government of the Northwest Territories through press releases and various other documents.

For fiscal year 2009-2010, these documents included:

  • 2009-2010 Budget Address;
  • 2009-2010 Main Estimates;
  • 2009-2010 Public Accounts; and
  • 2007-2010 Business Plan for the Department of Finance.

The Main Estimates (noted above) represent the government's financial plan, and are presented each year by the Government to the Legislative Assembly.

Registered Persons
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 44,0821 45,5511 46,1771 46,7921 39,4371
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
2. Number (#). 27 27 27 27 27
3. Payments for insured health services ($). 55,905,392 64,418,406 85,365,096 74,246,936 68,600,324
Private For-Profit Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#). 0 0 0 0 0
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($). not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
Insured Hospital Services Provided to residents in another province or territory
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 1,199 1,051 1,198 1,209 1,135
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 11,489,069 11,429,716 12,824,618 13,060,563 12,626,794
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 10,673 11,935 11,915 12,314 11,097
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 2,636,052 2,692,568 2,742,122 3,584,933 3,465,869
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 9 8 14 12 5
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 14,868 16,970 41,786 24,444 9,602
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 54 43 35 29 21
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 7,280 9,635 6,666 10,546 8,034
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
14. Number of participating physicians (#). 2512 2622 2862 2662 2032
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#). 0 0 0 0 0
16. Number of non-participating physicians (#). 0 0 0 0 0
17. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods ($). 30,080,888 31,586,887 34,266,756 35,775,012 37,589,609
18. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service ($). 1,576,368 1,696,823 1,791,633 1,931,717 1,874,408
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
19. Number of services (#). 48,457 48,797 45,412 45,544 34,397
20. Total payments ($). 4,019,916 3,630,179 4,118,883 4,086,169 4,171,201
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 84 90 95 110 90
22. Total payments ($). 3,611 4,142 9,051 6,231 5,726
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
23. Number of participating dentists (#). not available not available not available not available not available
24. Number of services provided (#). not available not available not available not available not available
25. Total payments ($). not available not available not available not available not available

All data are subject to future revisions. 2009-10 estimated based on claim data as of September 10, 2010.

1. The 2005-2006 figure as of September 6, 2006, the 2006-2007 figure as of September 6, 2007, the 2007-2008 figure as of September 5, 2008, the 2008-2009 figure as of September 1, 2009, and the 2009-2010 figure as of September 8, 2010.
2. Estimate based on total active physicians for each fiscal year.

Nunavut

Introduction

The Department of Health and Social Services faces many unique challenges when providing for the health and well-being of Nunavummiut. The population of 32,8871 is approximately 84 percent Inuit, and almost 53 percent of the population is under the age of 25 years.2 The territory is made up of 25 communities located across three time zones and divided into three regions: the Baffin (or Qikiqtaaluk), the Kivalliq and the Kitikmeot.

The health status of Nunavummiut is significantly below the national average, and overall life expectancy trails the Canadian average by 10 years.3 There are no roads or railways connecting Nunavut's communities, and air travel is the only means of travelling into, around and out of the territory. As the cost of airfare, agency nurses, medical technology, infrastructure and other related expenditures continues to rise, the Government of Nunavut continues to invest additional resources into public health; by making investments in health promotion and preventative care now, the high cost of primary health care in the future can be offset.4

During 2009-2010, the Department undertook several initiatives that will have an impact on our health care insurance plan, including:

  • A comprehensive study of health and health care in Nunavut to determine optimal departmental staffing levels and service delivery approaches in each community;
  • Increased regional integration of strategic territorial initiatives including the Nursing Recruitment and Retention Strategy;
  • A comprehensive review of the medical travel system with the goal of providing a sustainable level of quality care and increasing services provided in the territory;
  • Finalized a strategic plan for territorial physician services; and
  • Conducted a territorial review of rehabilitation services.

The Government of Nunavut strives to incorporate Inuit societal values into program and policy development as well as into service design and delivery. The delivery of health services in Nunavut is based on a primary health care model. Nunavut's primary health care providers are family physicians, nurse practitioners, community health nurses, and pharmacists.

The territorial operations and maintenance budget for the Department of Health and Social Services in 2009-2010 was $274,829,000.5 Over one quarter of the Department's total operational budget is spent on costs associated with medical travel and treatment provided in out-of-territory facilities. Due to the very low population density in this vast territory and limited health infrastructure (i.e., diagnostic services), access to a range of hospital and specialist services often requires that residents be sent out of the territory. An additional $18,269,000 was allocated to the Department for capital projects.6

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

The health care insurance plans of Nunavut, including physician and hospital services, are administered by the Department on a non-profit basis.

The Medical Care Act (NWT, 1988 and as duplicated for Nunavut by section 29 of the Nunavut Act, 1999) governs the entitlement to and payment of benefits for insured medical services. The Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act (NWT, 1988 and as duplicated for Nunavut by section 29 of the Nunavut Act, 1999) enables the establishment of hospital and other health services.

The management and delivery of health services in Nunavut were integrated into the overall operations of the Department on March 31, 2000, when the former regional boards (Baffin, Keewatin (Kivalliq) and Kitikmeot) were dissolved. Through the Dissolution Act (Nunavut, 1999), the operations of the regional health boards were integrated into the Department effective April 1, 2000. Former board staff became employees of the Department at that time. The Department has a regional office in each of the three regions that manages the delivery of health services at a regional level. Iqaluit operations are administered separately. The Department retained regional operations in each region of Nunavut to support front-line workers and community-based delivery of a wide range of health and social services programs and services.

There were no legislative amendments in fiscal year 2009-2010.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

A Director of Medical Insurance is appointed under the Medical Care Act and is responsible for the administration of the territory's medical care insurance plan. The Director reports to the Minister of Health and Social Services and is required to submit an annual report on the operations of the medical insurance plan. The Department's annual submissions to the Canada Health Act Annual Report serve as the basis for these reports under the Medical Care Act.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The Auditor General of Canada is the auditor of the Government of Nunavut in accordance with section 30.1 of the Financial Administration Act (Nunavut, 1999). The Auditor General is required to conduct an annual audit of the transactions and consolidated financial statements of the Government of Nunavut. The most recent audited report was issued March 18, 2010.

The Auditor General has the mandate to audit the activities of the Department. A report specific to the financial management practices of the Department of Health and Social Services was issued by the Office of the Auditor General in 2009-2010. In June 2010, a report was tabled in response to the Standing Committee on Oversight of Government Operations and Public Accounts' Report on the Review of the 2009 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada to the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut on the Financial Management Practices of the Department of Health and Social Services; and the Follow-up on the 2005 Report to the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut on the Financial Management Practices of the Government of Nunavut.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Insured hospital services are provided in Nunavut under the authority of the Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act and regulations, sections 2 to 4. No amendments were made to the Act or regulations in 2009-2010.

In 2009-2010, insured hospital services were delivered in 28 facilities across Nunavut, including one general hospital (Iqaluit), two regional health facilities (Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay), 22 community health centres, one public health facility (Iqaluit), and one family practice clinic (Iqaluit). There is also rehabilitative treatment available through the Timimut Ikajuksivik Centre, located in Iqaluit.

The Qikiqtani General Hospital (QGH) is currently the only acute care facility in Nunavut providing a range of in- and out-patient hospital services as defined by the Canada Health Act. QGH offers 24-hour emergency services, in-patient care (including obstetrics, paediatrics and palliative care), surgical services, laboratory services, diagnostic imaging, respiratory therapy, and health records and information. However, as the two regional facilities in Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay are able to recruit additional physicians, they will also be able to offer a broader range of in-patient and outpatient services. Community health centres provide public health services, out-patient services and urgent treatment services. There are also a limited number of birthing beds at the Rankin Inlet Birthing Centre. Public health services are provided at public health clinics located in Rankin Inlet and Iqaluit.

The Department also operates a Family Practice Clinic in Iqaluit. The clinic, established in 2006 with funding from the Primary Health Care Transition Fund, has been successful in helping to reduce pressure on the emergency and out-patient departments of the QGH during working hours. The clinic provides a steady source of primary care appointments and programs, such as a Diabetes Clinic, and receives physician support via 2-3 physician days per month. At present, the clinic is staffed by three nurse practitioners with approximately 600-700 patient visits per month.

The Department is responsible for authorizing, licensing, inspecting and supervising all health facilities and social services facilities in the territory. Insured in-patient hospital services include: accommodation and meals at the standard ward level; necessary nursing services; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures, together with the necessary interpretations; drugs, biological and related preparations prescribed by a physician and administered in hospital; routine surgical supplies; use of operating room, case-room and anaesthetic facilities; use of radiotherapy and physiotherapy services where available; psychiatric and psychological services provided under an approved program; services rendered by persons who are paid by the hospital; and services rendered by an approved detoxification centre.

Out-patient services include: laboratory tests and x-rays, including interpretations, when requested by a physician and performed in an out-patient facility or in an approved hospital; hospital services in connection with most minor medical and surgical procedures; physiotherapy, occupational therapy, limited audiology and speech therapy services in an out-patient facility or in an approved hospital; and psychiatric and psychology services provided under an approved hospital program. The Department makes the determination to add insured services in its facilities based on the availability of appropriate resources, equipment and overall feasibility in accordance with financial guidelines set by the Department and with the approval of the Financial Management Board. No new services were added in 2009-2010 to the list of insured hospital services.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The Medical Care Act, section 3(1), and Medical Care Regulations, section 3, provide for insured physician services in Nunavut. No amendments were made to the Act or regulations in 2009-2010. The Nursing Act allows for licensure of nurse practitioners in Nunavut; this permits nurses to deliver insured physician services in Nunavut.

Physicians must be in good standing with a College of Physicians and Surgeons (Canada) and be licensed to practice in Nunavut. The Government of Nunavut's Medical Registration Committee currently manages this process for Nunavut physicians. Nunavut recruits and hires its own family physicians, and accesses specialist services primarily from its main referral centres in Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Yellowknife. Recruitment of fulltime family physicians has improved significantly and there are 21 family physician positions funded through the Department, providing over 5,000 days of service annually across the territory. In 2009-2010, all family physician positions in Nunavut were staffed.

There are a total of 25 full-time physician positions in Nunavut (14 in the Baffin region; 4.5 positions in the Kivalliq region; 2.5 positions in the Kitikmeot region; as well as 1 surgeon, 1 anaesthetist, 1 pediatrician and 1 psychiatrist at the Qiqiktani General Hospital). Visiting specialists, general practitioners and locums, through arrangements made by each of the Department's three regions, also provide insured physician services. On March 31, 2010, Nunavut had 225 physicians participating in the health insurance plan.

Physicians can make an election to collect fees other than those under the Medical Care Plan in accordance with section 12(2)(a) or (b) of the Medical Care Act by notifying the Director in writing. An election can be revoked the first day of the following month after a letter to that effect is delivered to the Director. In 2009-2010, no physicians provided written notice of this election.

All physicians practicing in Nunavut are under contract with the Department.

Insured physician services refers to all services rendered by medical practitioners that are medically required. Where insured services are unavailable in some places in Nunavut, the patient is referred to another jurisdiction to obtain the insured service. Nunavut has in place health service agreements with medical and treatment centres in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Churchill, Yellowknife and Edmonton. These are the out-of-territory sites to which Nunavut mainly refers its patients to access medical services not available within the territory.

The addition or deletion of insured physician services requires government approval. For this, the Director of Medical Insurance would become involved in negotiations with a collective group of physicians to discuss the service. Then the decision of the group would be presented to Cabinet for approval. No insured physician services were added or deleted in 2009-2010.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Dentists providing insured surgical-dental services under the Medical Care Insurance Plan of the territory must be licensed pursuant to the Dental Professions Act (NWT, 1988 and as duplicated for Nunavut by section 29 of the Nunavut Act, 1999). Billing numbers are provided for billing the Plan regarding the provision of insured dental services.

Insured dental services are limited to those dental-surgical procedures scheduled in the regulations, requiring the unique capabilities of a hospital for their performance; for example, orthognathic surgery. Oral surgeons are brought to Nunavut on a regular basis, but on rare occasions, for medically complicated situations, patients are flown out of the territory.

The addition of new surgical-dental services to the list of insured services requires government approval. No new services were added to the list in 2009-2010.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Services provided under the Workers' Compensation Act (NWT, 1988 and as duplicated for Nunavut by section 29 of the Nunavut Act, 1999) or other Acts of Canada, except the Canada Health Act, are excluded.

Services provided by physicians that are not insured include: yearly physicals; cosmetic surgery; services that are considered experimental; prescription drugs; physical examinations done at the request of a third party; optometric services; dental services other than specific procedures related to jaw injury or disease; the services of chiropractors, naturopaths, podiatrists, osteopaths and acupuncture treatments; and physiotherapy, speech therapy and psychology services received in a facility that is not an insured out-patient facility (hospital).

Services not covered in a hospital include: hospital charges above the standard ward rate for private or semi-private accommodation; services that are not medically required, such as cosmetic surgery; services that are considered experimental; ambulance charges (except inter-hospital transfers); dental services, other than specific procedures related to jaw injury or disease; and alcohol and drug rehabilitation, without prior approval.

The Qikiqtani General Hospital charges $1,934 per diem for services provided for non-Canadian resident stays.

When residents are sent out of the territory for services, the Department relies on the policies and procedures guiding that particular jurisdiction when they provide services to Nunavut residents that could result in additional costs, only to the extent that these costs are covered by Nunavut's Medical Insurance Plan (see section 4.2 under Portability). Any query or complaint is handled on an individual basis with the jurisdiction involved.

The Department also administers the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Program on behalf of Health Canada for Inuit and First Nations residents in Nunavut. NIHB covers a co-payment for medical travel, accommodations and meals at boarding homes (in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Churchill, Edmonton, Yellowknife and Iqaluit), prescription drugs, dental treatment, vision care, medical supplies and prostheses, and a number of other incidental services.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Eligibility for the Nunavut Health Care Plan is briefly defined under sections 3(1), (2), and (3) of the Medical Care Act. The Department also adheres to the Inter-Provincial/Territorial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability, as well as internal guidelines. No amendments were made to the Act or regulations in 2009-2010.

Subject to these provisions, every Nunavut resident is eligible for and entitled to insured health services on uniform terms and conditions. A resident means a person lawfully entitled to be or to remain in Canada, who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present in Nunavut, but does not include a tourist, transient or visitor to Nunavut. Applications are accepted for health coverage, and supporting documentation is required to confirm residency. Eligible residents receive a health card with a unique health care number.

Registration requirements include a completed application form and supporting documentation. A health care card is issued to each resident. To streamline document processing, a staggered renewal process was initiated in Nunavut in 2006. No premiums exist. Coverage under the Nunavut Medical Insurance Plan is linked to verification of registration, although every effort is made to ensure registration occurs when a coverage issue arises for an eligible resident. For non-residents, a valid health care card from their home province/territory is required.

Coverage generally begins the first day of the third month after arrival in Nunavut, but first-day coverage is provided under a number of circumstances (e.g., newborns whose mothers or fathers are eligible for coverage). As well, permanent residents (landed immigrants), returning Canadians, repatriated Canadians, returning permanent residents, and a non-Canadian who has been issued an employment visa for a period of 12 months or more are also granted first-day coverage.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and inmates of a federal penitentiary are not eligible for registration. These groups are granted first-day coverage under the Nunavut Health Care Plan upon discharge.

Pursuant to section 7 of the Inter-Provincial/Territorial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability, persons in Nunavut who are temporarily absent from their home province/territory and who are not establishing residency in Nunavut remain covered by their home provincial or territorial health insurance plans for up to one year.

On March 31, 2010, 33,540 individuals were registered with the Nunavut Health Care Plan, up by 1,333 from the previous year. There are no formal provisions for Nunavut residents to opt out of the health care insurance plan.

3.2 Other Categories of Individual

Non-Canadian holders of employment visas of less than 12 months, foreign students with visas of less than 12 months, transient workers, and individuals holding a Minister's Permit (with one exception) are not eligible for coverage. When unique circumstances occur, assessment is done on an individual basis. This is consistent with section 15 of the Northwest Territories' Guidelines for Health Care Plan Registration, which was adopted by Nunavut in 1999.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

Consistent with section 3 of the Inter-Provincial/ Territorial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability, the waiting period before coverage begins for individuals moving within Canada is three months, or the first day of the third month following the establishment of residency in a new province or territory, or the first day of the third month when an individual, who has been temporarily absent from his or her home province, decides to take up permanent residency in Nunavut.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

The Medical Care Act, section 4(2), prescribes the benefits payable where insured medical services are provided outside Nunavut but within Canada. The Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act, sections 5(d) and 28(1)(j)(o), provide the authority for the Minister to enter into agreements with other jurisdictions to provide health services to Nunavut residents and the terms and conditions of payment. No legislative or regulatory changes were made in 2009-2010 with respect to coverage outside Nunavut.

Students studying outside Nunavut must notify the Department and provide proof of enrolment to ensure continuing coverage. Requests for extensions must be renewed yearly and are subject to approval by the Director. Temporary absences for work, vacation or other reasons for up to one-year are approved by the Director upon receipt of a written request from the insured person. The Director may approve absences in excess of 12 continuous months upon receiving a written request from the insured person.

The provisions regarding coverage during temporary absences in Canada fully comply with the terms and conditions of the Inter-Provincial/Territorial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability, as of January 1, 2001.

Nunavut participates in physician and hospital reciprocal billing. As well, special bilateral agreements are in place with Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and the Northwest Territories. The Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreements provide payment of in- and out-patient hospital services to eligible Nunavut residents receiving insured services outside the territory. High-cost procedure rates, newborn rates and out-patient rates are based on those established by the Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee. A special agreement exists between the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, which, based on a block-funding approach, enables the Stanton Hospital in Yellowknife to provide services to Nunavut residents in the hospital and through visiting specialist services in the Kitikmeot area (western part of the territory).

The Physician Reciprocal Billing Agreements provide payment of insured physician services on behalf of eligible Nunavut residents receiving insured services outside the territory. Payment is made to the host province at the rates established by that province.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The Medical Care Act, section 4(3), prescribes the benefits payable where insured medical services are provided outside Canada. The Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act, section 28(1)(j)(o), provides the authority for the Minister to set the terms and conditions of payment for services provided to Nunavut residents outside Canada. Individuals are granted coverage for up to one year if they are temporarily out of the country for any reason, although they must give prior notice in writing. For services provided to residents who have been referred out of the country for highly specialized procedures unavailable in Nunavut and Canada, Nunavut will pay the full cost. For non-referred or non-emergency services, the payment for hospital services is $1,934 per day and $238 for out-patient care. These rates increased by $58 and $7 respectively from 2008-2009.

Insured physician services provided to eligible residents temporarily outside the country are paid at rates equivalent to those paid had that service been provided in the territory. Reimbursement is made to the insured person or directly to the provider of the insured service.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Prior approval is required for elective services provided in private facilities in Canada or in any facility outside the country.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

The Medical Care Act, section 14, prohibits extra billing by physicians unless the medical practitioner has made an election that is still in effect. Access to insured services is provided on uniform terms and conditions. To break down the barrier posed by distance and cost of travel, the Government of Nunavut provides medical travel assistance. Interpretation services in the Inuit language are also provided to patients in any health care setting.

The Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit is the only operating acute care hospital facility in Nunavut. The hospital has a total of 35 beds available for acute, rehabilitative, palliative and chronic care services. There are also 6 day surgery beds and 4 recovery beds. The facility provides in-patient, out-patient and 24-hour emergency services. On-site physicians provide emergency services on rotation. Medical services provided include an ambulatory care/outpatient clinic, limited intensive care services, and general medical, maternity and palliative care. Surgical services provided include minor orthopaedics, gynaecology, paediatrics, general abdominal, emergency trauma and ENT/otolaryngology. Patients requiring specialized surgeries are sent to other jurisdictions. Diagnostic services include radiology, laboratory and electrocardiogram. Rehabilitative services are limited to Iqaluit. Although nursing and other health professionals were not at full capacity, basic services were provided in 2009-2010.

Outside of Iqaluit, out-patient and 24-hour emergency nursing services are provided by local health centres in Nunavut's 24 other communities. Telehealth services are available in all 25 communities in Nunavut. The long-term goal is to integrate Telehealth into the primary care delivery system, enabling residents of Nunavut greater access to a broader range of service options, and allowing service providers and communities to use existing resources more effectively.

Nunavut has agreements in place with a number of out-of-territory regional health authorities and specific facilities to provide medical specialists and other visiting health practitioner services. The following specialist services were provided in Nunavut during 2009-2010 under the visiting specialists program: ophthalmology; orthopaedics; internal medicine; otolaryngology; neurology; rheumatology; dermatology; paediatrics; obstetrics; physiotherapy; occupational therapy; psychiatry; and oral surgery. Visiting specialist clinics are held depending on demand and availability of specialists.

Nunavut's Telehealth network, linking all 25 communities, allows for the delivery of a broad range of services over distances: specialist consultation services such as dermatology, psychiatry and internal medicine; rehabilitation services; regularly scheduled counselling sessions; family visitation; and continuing medical education.

For services and equipment unavailable in Nunavut, patients are referred to other jurisdictions.

5.2 Physician Compensation

All full-time physicians in Nunavut work under contract with the Department. The terms of the contracts are set by the Department. Visiting consultants are either paid on a per-diem basis or through fee-for-service.

5.3 Payments to Hospitals

Funding for the Qiqiktani General Hospital, regional health facilities and community health centres is provided through the Government of Nunavut's budget process.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

Nunavummiut are aware of ongoing federal contributions through press releases and media coverage. The Government of Nunavut has also recognized the federal contribution provided through the Canada Health Transfer in various published documents. For fiscal year 2009-2010, they included:

  • 2009-2010 Budget Address; and
  • 2009-2010 Government of Nunavut Business Plan.
Registered Persons
2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 31,172 30,104 31,412 32,207 33,540
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
2. Number (#). 28 28 28 28 28
3. Payments for insured health services ($). not available not available not available not available not available
Private For-Profit Facilities 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#). 0 0 0 0 0
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($). 0 0 0 0 0
Insured Hospital Services Provided to residents in another province or territory
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 2,752 2,761 2,255 2,841 2,890
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 18,179,969 21,829,373 19,001,348 26,481,948 30,013,566
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 17,269 16,242 15,192 19,579 18,270
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 3,719,884 3,652,515 3,659,654 6,631,568 5,985,808
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 1 0 0 0 0
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 954 0 0 0 0
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 16 5 0 0 0
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 2,637 1,105 0 0 0
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
14. Number of participating physicians (#). 135 127 156 218 225
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#). 0 0 0 0 0
16. Number of non-participating physicians (#). 0 0 0 0 0
17. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods ($). not available not available not available not available not available
18. Total payments for services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service ($)7. 2,863,075 2,380,746 2,158,549 1,021,829 300,980
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
19. Number of services (#). 57,332 59,121 53,022 65,171 72,065
20. Total payments ($). 3,471,307 3,623,163 3,845,570 4,768,388 5,585,067
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 36 5 15 36 17
22. Total payments ($). 2,459 1,105 796 2,458 4,848
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009
2009-2010
23. Number of participating dentists (#). not available not available not available not available not available
24. Number of services provided (#). not available not available not available not available not available
25. Total payments ($). not available not available not available not available not available

 1. Statistics Canada, Table 2 Quarterly Demographic Estimates, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/100929/t100929b2-eng.htm
2. Statistics Canada, 2006 Census.
3. Government of Nunavut, 2010-2013 Business Plan.
4. Government of Nunavut, 2010-2013 Business Plan.
5. Government of Nunavut. 2010-2011 Main Estimates.
6. Government of Nunavut 2010-2011 Capital Estimates.
7. Nunavut does not pay its physicians through fee-for-service. Instead, the majority of physicians are compensated through salaries and alternative methods. Information on salaried physicians is reported via the shadow billing process. Figures include shadow billed claims. Specialists who are flown in from the south are paid through fee-for-service.

Annex A - Canada Health Act and Extra-Billing and User Charges Information Regulations

This annex provides the reader with an office consolidation of the Canada Health Act and the Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations. An "office consolidation" is a rendering of the original Act, which includes any amendments that have been made since the Act's passage. The only regulations in force under the Act are the Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations. These regulations require the provinces and territories to provide estimates of extra-billing and user charges prior to the beginning of each fiscal year so that appropriate penalties can be levied, as well as financial statements showing the amounts actually charged so that reconciliations with any estimated charges can be made. These regulations are also presented in an office consolidation format. This unofficial consolidation is current to October 2009. It is provided for the convenience of the reader only. For the official text of the Canada Health Act, please contact Justice Canada.

Consolidation, Canada Health Act, Chapter C-6

Published by the  Minister of Justice at the following address: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca

Official Status of Consolidations

Subsections 31(1) and (2) of the Legislation Revision and Consolidation Act, in force on June 1, 2009, provide as follows:

Published consolidation is evidence

31. (1) Every copy of a consolidated statute or consolidated regulation published by the Minister under this Act in either print or electronic form is evidence of that statute or regulation and of its contents and every copy purporting to be published by the Minister is deemed to be so published, unless the contrary is shown.

Inconsistencies in Acts

(2) In the event of an inconsistency between a consolidated statute published by the Minister under this Act and the original statute or a subsequent amendment as certified by the Clerk of the Parliaments under the Publication of Statutes Act, the original statute or amendment prevails to the extent of the inconsistency.

Chapter C-6

An Act relating to cash contributions by Canada and relating to criteria and conditions in respect of insured health services and extended health care services

Preamble

WHEREAS the Parliament of Canada recognizes:

  • that it is not the intention of the Government of Canada that any of the powers, rights, privileges or authorities vested in Canada or the provinces under the provisions of the Constitution Act, 1867, or any amendments thereto, or otherwise, be by reason of this Act abrogated or derogated from or in any way impaired;
  • that Canadians, through their system of insured health services, have made outstanding progress in treating sickness and alleviating the consequences of disease and disability among all income groups;
  • that Canadians can achieve further improvements in their well-being through combining individual lifestyles that emphasize fitness, prevention of disease and health promotion with collective action against the social, environmental and occupational causes of disease, and that they desire a system of health services that will promote physical and mental health and protection against disease;
  • that future improvements in health will require the cooperative partnership of governments, health professionals, voluntary organizations and individual Canadians;
  • that continued access to quality health care without financial or other barriers will be critical to maintaining and improving the health and well-being of Canadians;

AND WHEREAS the Parliament of Canada wishes to encourage the development of health services throughout Canada by assisting the provinces in meeting the costs thereof;

NOW, THEREFORE, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short title

1. This Act may be cited as the Canada Health Act.

1984, c. 6, s. 1.

Interpretation

2. In this Act,

"Act of 1977" [Repealed, 1995, c. 17, s. 34]

"cash contribution" means the cash contribution in respect of the Canada Health and Social Transfer that may be provided to a province under subsections 15(1) and (4) of the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act;

"contribution" [Repealed, 1995, c. 17, s. 34]

"dentist" means a person lawfully entitled to practise dentistry in the place in which the practice is carried on by that person;

"extended health care services" means the following services, as more particularly defined in the regulations, provided for residents of a province, namely,

  • (a) nursing home intermediate care service,
  • (b) adult residential care service,
  • (c) home care service, and
  • (d) ambulatory health care service;

"extra-billing" means the billing for an insured health service rendered to an insured person by a medical practitioner or a dentist in an amount in addition to any amount paid or to be paid for that service by the health care insurance plan of a province;

"health care insurance plan" means, in relation to a province, a plan or plans established by the law of the province to provide for insured health services;

"health care practitioner" means a person lawfully entitled under the law of a province to provide health services in the place in which the services are provided by that person;

"hospital" includes any facility or portion thereof that provides hospital care, including acute, rehabilitative or chronic care, but does not include

  • (a) a hospital or institution primarily for the mentally disordered, or
  • (b) a facility or portion thereof that provides nursing home intermediate care service or adult residential care service, or comparable services for children;

"hospital services" means any of the following services provided to in-patients or out-patients at a hospital, if the services are medically necessary for the purpose of maintaining health, preventing disease or diagnosing or treating an injury, illness or disability, namely,

  • (a) accommodation and meals at the standard or public ward level and preferred accommodation if medically required,
  • (b) nursing service,
  • (c) laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures, together with the necessary interpretations,
  • (d) drugs, biologicals and related preparations when administered in the hospital,
  • (e) use of operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities, including necessary equipment and supplies,
  • (f) medical and surgical equipment and supplies,
  • (g) use of radiotherapy facilities,
  • (h) use of physiotherapy facilities, and
  • (i) services provided by persons who receive remuneration therefor from the hospital,

but does not include services that are excluded by the regulations;

"insured health services" means hospital services, physician services and surgical-dental services provided to insured persons, but does not include any health services that a person is entitled to and eligible for under any other Act of Parliament or under any Act of the legislature of a province that relates to workers' or workmen's compensation;

"insured person" means, in relation to a province, a resident of the province other than

  • (a) a member of the Canadian Forces,
  • (b) a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who is appointed to a rank therein,
  • (c) a person serving a term of imprisonment in a penitentiary as defined in the Penitentiary Act, or
  • (d) a resident of the province who has not completed such minimum period of residence or waiting period, not exceeding three months, as may be required by the province for eligibility for or entitlement to insured health services;

"medical practitioner" means a person lawfully entitled to practise medicine in the place in which the practice is carried on by that person;

"Minister" means the Minister of Health;

"physician services" means any medically required services rendered by medical practitioners;

"resident" means, in relation to a province, a person lawfully entitled to be or to remain in Canada who makes his home and is ordinarily present in the province, but does not include a tourist, a transient or a visitor to the province;

"surgical-dental services" means any medically or dentally required surgical-dental procedures performed by a dentist in a hospital, where a hospital is required for the proper performance of the procedures;

"user charge" means any charge for an insured health service that is authorized or permitted by a provincial health care insurance plan that is not payable, directly or indirectly, by a provincial health care insurance plan, but does not include any charge imposed by extra-billing.

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 2; 1992, c. 20, s. 216(F); 1995, c. 17, s. 34; 1996, c.8, s. 32; 1999, c. 26, s. 11.

Canadian health care policy

3. It is hereby declared that the primary objective of Canadian health care policy is to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers.

1984, c. 6, s. 3.

Purpose

4. The purpose of this Act is to establish criteria and conditions in respect of insured health services and extended health care services provided under provincial law that must be met before a full cash contribution may be made.

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 4; 1995, c. 17, s. 35.

Cash contribution

5. Subject to this Act, as part of the Canada Health and Social Transfer, a full cash contribution is payable by Canada to each province for each fiscal year.

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 5; 1995, c. 17, s. 36.

6. [Repealed, 1995, c. 17, s. 36]

Program criteria

7. In order that a province may qualify for a full cash contribution referred to in section 5 for a fiscal year, the health care insurance plan of the province must, throughout the fiscal year, satisfy the criteria described in sections 8 to 12 respecting the following matters:

  • (a) public administration;
  • (b) comprehensiveness;
  • (c) universality;
  • (d) portability; and
  • (e) accessibility.

1984, c. 6, s. 7.

8.

  • (1) In order to satisfy the criterion respecting public administration,
    • (a) the health care insurance plan of a province must be administered and operated on a non-profit basis by a public authority appointed or designated by the government of the province;
    • (b) the public authority must be responsible to the provincial government for that administration and operation; and
    • (c) the public authority must be subject to audit of its accounts and financial transactions by such authority as is charged by law with the audit of the accounts of the province.
  • (2) The criterion respecting public administration is not contravened by reason only that the public authority referred to in subsection (1) has the power to designate any agency
    • (a) to receive on its behalf any amounts payable under the provincial health care insurance plan; or
    • (b) to carry out on its behalf any responsibility in connection with the receipt or payment of accounts rendered for insured health services, if it is a condition of the designation that all those accounts are subject to assessment and approval by the public authority and that the public authority shall determine the amounts to be paid in respect thereof.

1984, c. 6, s. 8.

9. In order to satisfy the criterion respecting comprehensiveness, the health care insurance plan of a province must insure all insured health services provided by hospitals, medical practitioners or dentists, and where the law of the province so permits, similar or additional services rendered by other health care practitioners.

1984, c. 6, s. 9.

10. In order to satisfy the criterion respecting universality, the health care insurance plan of a province must entitle one hundred per cent of the insured persons of the province to the insured health services provided for by the plan on uniform terms and conditions.

1984, c. 6, s. 10.

11.

  • (1) In order to satisfy the criterion respecting portability, the health care insurance plan of a province
    • (a) must not impose any minimum period of residence in the province, or waiting period, in excess of three months before residents of the province are eligible for or entitled to insured health services;
    • (b) must provide for and be administered and operated so as to provide for the payment of amounts for the cost of insured health services provided to insured persons while temporarily absent from the province on the basis that
      • (i) where the insured health services are provided in Canada, payment for health services is at the rate that is approved by the health care insurance plan of the province in which the services are provided, unless the provinces concerned agree to apportion the cost between them in a different manner, or
      • (ii) where the insured health services are provided out of Canada, payment is made on the basis of the amount that would have been paid by the province for similar services rendered in the province, with due regard, in the case of hospital services, to the size of the hospital, standards of service and other relevant factors; and
    • (c) must provide for and be administered and operated so as to provide for the payment, during any minimum period of residence, or any waiting period, imposed by the health care insurance plan of another province, of the cost of insured health services provided to persons who have ceased to be insured persons by reason of having become residents of that other province, on the same basis as though they had not ceased to be residents of the province.
  • (2) The criterion respecting portability is not contravened by a requirement of a provincial health care insurance plan that the prior consent of the public authority that administers and operates the plan must be obtained for elective insured health services provided to a resident of the province while temporarily absent from the province if the services in question were available on a substantially similar basis in the province.
  • (3) For the purpose of subsection (2), "elective insured health services" means insured health services other than services that are provided in an emergency or in any other circumstance in which medical care is required without delay.

1984, c. 6, s. 11.

12.

  • (1) In order to satisfy the criterion respecting accessibility, the health care insurance plan of a province
    • (a) must provide for insured health services on uniform terms and conditions and on a basis that does not impede or preclude, either directly or indirectly whether by charges made to insured persons or otherwise, reasonable access to those services by insured persons;
    • (b) must provide for payment for insured health services in accordance with a tariff or system of payment authorized by the law of the province;
    • (c) must provide for reasonable compensation for all insured health services rendered by medical practitioners or dentists; and
    • (d) must provide for the payment of amounts to hospitals, including hospitals owned or operated by Canada, in respect of the cost of insured health services.
  • (2) In respect of any province in which extra-billing is not permitted, paragraph (1)(c) shall be deemed to be complied with if the province has chosen to enter into, and has entered into, an agreement with the medical practitioners and dentists of the province that provides
    • (a) for negotiations relating to compensation for insured health services between the province and provincial organizations that represent practising medical practitioners or dentists in the province;
    • (b) for the settlement of disputes relating to compensation through, at the option of the appropriate provincial organizations referred to in paragraph (a), conciliation or binding arbitration by a panel that is equally representative of the provincial organizations and the province and that has an independent chairman; and
    • (c) that a decision of a panel referred to in paragraph (b) may not be altered except by an Act of the legislature of the province.

1984, c. 6, s. 12.

Conditions for cash contribution

13. In order that a province may qualify for a full cash contribution referred to in section 5, the government of the province

  • (a) shall, at the times and in the manner prescribed by the regulations, provide the Minister with such information, of a type prescribed by the regulations, as the Minister may reasonably require for the purposes of this Act; and
  • (b) shall give recognition to the Canada Health and Social Transfer in any public documents, or in any advertising or promotional material, relating to insured health services and extended health care services in the province.

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 13; 1995, c. 17, s. 37.

Defaults

14.

  • (1) Subject to subsection (3), where the Minister, after consultation in accordance with subsection (2) with the minister responsible for health care in a province, is of the opinion that
    • (a) the health care insurance plan of the province does not or has ceased to satisfy any one of the criteria described in sections 8 to 12, or
    • (b) the province has failed to comply with any condition set out in section 13,
    and the province has not given an undertaking satisfactory to the Minister to remedy the default within a period that the Minister considers reasonable, the Minister shall refer the matter to the Governor in Council.
  • (2) Before referring a matter to the Governor in Council under subsection (1) in respect of a province, the Minister shall
    • (a) send by registered mail to the minister responsible for health care in the province a notice of concern with respect to any problem foreseen;
    • (b) seek any additional information available from the province with respect to the problem through bilateral discussions, and make a report to the province within ninety days after sending the notice of concern; and
    • (c) if requested by the province, meet within a reasonable period of time to discuss the report.
  • (3) The Minister may act without consultation under subsection (1) if the Minister is of the opinion that a sufficient time has expired after reasonable efforts to achieve consultation and that consultation will not be achieved.

1984, c. 6, s. 14.

15.

  • (1) Where, on the referral of a matter under section 14, the Governor in Council is of the opinion that the health care insurance plan of a province does not or has ceased to satisfy any one of the criteria described in sections 8 to 12 or that a province has failed to comply with any condition set out in section 13, the Governor in Council may, by order,
    • (a) direct that any cash contribution to that province for a fiscal year be reduced, in respect of each default, by an amount that the Governor in Council considers to be appropriate, having regard to the gravity of the default; or
    • (b) where the Governor in Council considers it appropriate, direct that the whole of any cash contribution to that province for a fiscal year be withheld.
  • (2) The Governor in Council may, by order, repeal or amend any order made under subsection (1) where the Governor in Council is of the opinion that the repeal or amendment is warranted in the circumstances.
  • (3) A copy of each order made under this section together with a statement of any findings on which the order was based shall be sent forthwith by registered mail to the government of the province concerned and the Minister shall cause the order and statement to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the order is made.
  • (4) An order made under subsection (1) shall not come into force earlier than thirty days after a copy of the order has been sent to the government of the province concerned under subsection (3).

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 15; 1995, c. 17, s. 38.

16. In the case of a continuing failure to satisfy any of the criteria described in sections 8 to 12 or to comply with any condition set out in section 13, any reduction or withholding under section 15 of a cash contribution to a province for a fiscal year shall be reimposed for each succeeding fiscal year as long as the Minister is satisfied, after consultation with the minister responsible for health care in the province, that the default is continuing.

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 16; 1995, c. 17, s. 39.

17. Any reduction or withholding under section 15 or 16 of a cash contribution may be imposed in the fiscal year in which the default that gave rise to the reduction or withholding occurred or in the following fiscal year.

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 17; 1995, c. 17, s. 39.

Extra-billing and user charges

18. In order that a province may qualify for a full cash contribution referred to in section 5 for a fiscal year, no payments may be permitted by the province for that fiscal year under the health care insurance plan of the province in respect of insured health services that have been subject to extra-billing by medical practitioners or dentists.

1984, c. 6, s. 18.

19.

  • (1) In order that a province may qualify for a full cash contribution referred to in section 5 for a fiscal year, user charges must not be permitted by the province for that fiscal year under the health care insurance plan of the province.
  • (2) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of user charges for accommodation or meals provided to an in-patient who, in the opinion of the attending physician, requires chronic care and is more or less permanently resident in a hospital or other institution.

1984, c. 6, s. 19.

20.

  • (1) Where a province fails to comply with the condition set out in section 18, there shall be deducted from the cash contribution to the province for a fiscal year an amount that the Minister, on the basis of information provided in accordance with the regulations, determines to have been charged through extra-billing by medical practitioners or dentists in the province in that fiscal year or, where information is not provided in accordance with the regulations, an amount that the Minister estimates to have been so charged.
  • (2) Where a province fails to comply with the condition set out in section 19, there shall be deducted from the cash contribution to the province for a fiscal year an amount that the Minister, on the basis of information provided in accordance with the regulations, determines to have been charged in the province in respect of user charges to which section 19 applies in that fiscal year or, where information is not provided in accordance with the regulations, an amount that the Minister estimates to have been so charged.
  • (3) The Minister shall not estimate an amount under subsection (1) or (2) without first undertaking to consult the minister responsible for health care in the province concerned.
  • (4) Any amount deducted under subsection (1) or (2) from a cash contribution in any of the three consecutive fiscal years the first of which commences on April 1, 1984 shall be accounted for separately in respect of each province in the Public Accounts for each of those fiscal years in and after which the amount is deducted.
  • (5) Where, in any of the three fiscal years referred to in subsection (4), extra-billing or user charges have, in the opinion of the Minister, been eliminated in a province, the total amount deducted in respect of extra-billing or user charges, as the case may be, shall be paid to the province.
  • (6) Nothing in this section restricts the power of the Governor in Council to make any order under section 15.

1984, c. 6, s. 20.

21. Any deduction from a cash contribution under section 20 may be made in the fiscal year in which the matter that gave rise to the deduction occurred or in the following two fiscal years.

1984, c. 6, s. 21.

Regulations

22.

  • (1) Subject to this section, the Governor in Council may make regulations for the administration of this Act and for carrying its purposes and provisions into effect, including, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, regulations
    • (a) defining the services referred to in paragraphs (a) to (d) of the definition "extended health care services" in section 2;
    • (b) prescribing the services excluded from hospital services;
    • (c) prescribing the types of information that the Minister may require under paragraph 13(a) and the times at which and the manner in which that information shall be provided; and
    • (d) prescribing the manner in which recognition to the Canada Health and Social Transfer is required to be given under paragraph 13(b).
  • (2) Subject to subsection (3), no regulation may be made under paragraph (1)(a) or (b) except with the agreement of each of the provinces.
  • (3) Subsection (2) does not apply in respect of regulations made under paragraph (1)(a) if they are substantially the same as regulations made under the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, as it read immediately before April 1, 1984.
  • (4) No regulation may be made under paragraph (1)(c) or (d) unless the Minister has first consulted with the ministers responsible for health care in the provinces.

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 22; 1995, c. 17, s. 40.

Report to Parliament

23. The Minister shall, as soon as possible after the termination of each fiscal year and in any event not later than December 31 of the next fiscal year, make a report respecting the administration and operation of this Act for that fiscal year, including all relevant information on the extent to which provincial health care insurance plans have satisfied the criteria, and the extent to which the provinces have satisfied the conditions, for payment under this Act and shall cause the report to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the report is completed.

1984, c. 6, s. 23.

Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations

SOR/86-259

Published by the  Minister of Justice at the following address: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca

Official Status of Consolidations

Subsections 31(1) and (3) of the Legislation Revision and Consolidation Act, in force on June 1, 2009, provide as follows:

Published consolidation is evidence

31. (1) Every copy of a consolidated statute or consolidated regulation published by the Minister under this Act in either print or electronic form is evidence of that statute or regulation and of its contents and every copy purporting to be published by the Minister is deemed to be so published, unless the contrary is shown.

Inconsistencies in regulations

(3) In the event of an inconsistency between a consolidated regulation published by the Minister under this Act and the original regulation or a subsequent amendment as registered by the Clerk of the Privy Council under the Statutory Instruments Act, the original regulation or amendment prevails to the extent of the inconsistency.

Regulations prescribing the types of information that the minister of national health and welfare may require under paragraph 13(a) of the canada health act in respect of extra-billing and user charges and the times at which and the manner in which such information shall be provided by the government of each province

Short Title

1. These Regulations may be cited as the Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations.

Interpretation

2. In these Regulations,

“Act” means the Canada Health Act; (Loi)

“Minister” means the Minister of National Health and Welfare; (ministre)

“fiscal year” means the period beginning on April 1 in one year and ending on March 31 in the following year. (exercice)

Types of Information

3. For the purposes of paragraph 13(a) of the Act, the Minister may require the government of a province to provide the Minister with information of the following types with respect to extra-billing in the province in a fiscal year:

  • (a) an estimate of the aggregate amount that, at the time the estimate is made, is expected to be charged through extra-billing, including an explanation regarding the method of determination of the estimate; and
  • (b) a financial statement showing the aggregate amount actually charged through extra-billing, including an explanation regarding the method of determination of the aggregate amount.

4. For the purposes of paragraph 13(a) of the Act, the Minister may require the government of a province to provide the Minister with information of the following types with respect to user charges in the province in a fiscal year:

  • (a) an estimate of the aggregate amount that, at the time the estimate is made, is expected to be charged in respect of user charges to which section 19 of the Act applies, including an explanation regarding the method of determination of the estimate; and
  • (b) a financial statement showing the aggregate amount actually charged in respect of user charges to which section 19 of the Act applies, including an explanation regarding the method of determination of the aggregate amount.
Times and Manner of Filing Information

5. (1) The government of a province shall provide the Minister with such information, of the types prescribed by sections 3 and 4, as the Minister may reasonably require, at the following times:

  • (a) in respect of the estimates referred to in paragraphs 3(a) and 4(a), before April 1 of the fiscal year to which they relate; and
  • (b) in respect of the financial statements referred to in paragraphs 3(b) and 4(b), before the sixteenth day of the twenty-first month following the end of the fiscal year to which they relate.

(2) The government of a province may, at its discretion, provide the Minister with adjustments to the estimates referred to in paragraphs 3(a) and 4(a) before February 16 of the fiscal year to which they relate.

(3) The information referred to in subsections (1) and (2) shall be transmitted to the Minister by the most practical means of communication.

Annex B - Policy Interpretation Letters

There are two key policy statements that clarify the federal position on the Canada Health Act. These statements have been made in the form of ministerial letters from former Federal Health Ministers to their provincial and territorial counterparts.

Epp Letter

In June 1985, approximately one year following the passage of the Canada Health Act in Parliament, then-federal Health Minister Jake Epp wrote to his provincial and territorial counterparts to set out and confirm the federal position on the interpretation and implementation of the Canada Health Act.

Minister Epp's letter followed several months of consultation with his provincial and territorial counterparts. The letter sets forth statements of federal policy intent which clarify the criteria, conditions and regulatory provisions of the Canada Health Act. These clarifications have been used by the federal government in the assessment and interpretation of compliance with the Act. The Epp letter remains an important reference for interpretation of the Act.

Federal Policy on Private Clinics

Between February 1994 and December 1994, a series of seven federal/provincial/territorial meetings dealing wholly or in part with private clinics took place. At issue was the growth of private clinics providing medically necessary services funded partially by the public system and partially by patients and its impact on Canada's universal, publicly funded health care system.

At the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Health Ministers Meeting of September 1994 in Halifax all Ministers of Health present, with the exception of Alberta's Health Minister, agreed to "take whatever steps are required to regulate the development of private clinics in Canada."

Diane Marleau, the federal Minister of Health at the time, wrote to all provincial and territorial Ministers of Health on January 6, 1995 to announce the new Federal Policy on Private Clinics. The Minister's letter provided the federal interpretation of the Canada Health Act as it relates to the issue of facility fees charged directly to patients receiving medically necessary services at private clinics. The letter stated that the definition of "hospital" contained in the Canada Health Act, includes any facility that provides acute, rehabilitative or chronic care. Thus, when a provincial/territorial health insurance plan pays the physician fee for a medically necessary service delivered at a private clinic, it must also pay the facility fee or face a deduction from federal transfer payments.

[Following is the text of the letter sent on June 18, 1985 to all provincial and territorial Ministers of Health by the Honourable Jake Epp, Federal Minister of Health and Welfare. (Note: Minister Epp sent the French equivalent of this letter to Quebec on July 15, 1985.)]

June 18, 1985

Ottawa, K1A 0K9

Dear Minister:

Having consulted with all provincial and territorial Ministers of Health over the past several months, both individually and at the meeting in Winnipeg on May 16 and 17, I would like to confirm for you my intentions regarding the interpretation and implementation of the Canada Health Act. I would particularly appreciate if you could provide me with a written indication of your views on the attached proposals for regulations in order that I may act to have these officially put in place as soon as conveniently possible. Also, I will write to you further with regard to the material I will need to prepare the required annual report to Parliament.

As indicated at our meeting in Winnipeg, I intend to honour and respect provincial jurisdiction and authority in matters pertaining to health and the provision of health care services. I am persuaded, by conviction and experience, that more can be achieved through harmony and collaboration than through discord and confrontation.

With regard to the Canada Health Act, I can only conclude from our discussions that we together share a public trust and are mutually and equally committed to the maintenance and improvement of a universal, comprehensive, accessible and portable health insurance system, operated under public auspices for the benefit of all residents of Canada.

Our discussions have reinforced my belief that you require sufficient flexibility and administrative versatility to operate and administer your health care insurance plans. You know far better than I ever can, the needs and priorities of your residents, in light of geographic and economic considerations. Moreover, it is essential that provinces have the freedom to exercise their primary responsibility for the provision of personal health care services.

At the same time, I have come away from our discussions sensing a desire to sustain a positive federal involvement and role - both financial and otherwise - to support and assist provinces in their efforts dedicated to the fundamental objectives of the health care system: protecting, promoting and restoring the physical and mental well-being of Canadians. As a group, provincial/territorial Health Ministers accept a co-operative partnership with the federal government based primarily on the contributions it authorizes for purposes of providing insured and extended health care services.

I might also say that the Canada Health Act does not respond to challenges facing the health care system. I look forward to working collaboratively with you as we address challenges such as rapidly advancing medical technology and an aging population and strive to develop health promotion strategies and health care delivery alternatives.

Returning to the immediate challenge of implementing the Canada Health Act, I want to set forth some reasonably comprehensive statements of federal policy intent, beginning with each of the criteria contained in the Act.

Public Administration

This criterion is generally accepted. The intent is that the provincial health care insurance plans be administered by a public authority, accountable to the provincial government for decision-making on benefit levels and services, and whose records and accounts are publicly audited.

Comprehensiveness

The intent of the Canada Health Act is neither to expand nor contract the range of insured services covered under previous federal legislation. The range of insured services encompasses medically necessary hospital care, physician services and surgical-dental services which require a hospital for their proper performance. Hospital plans are expected to cover in-patient and out-patient hospital services associated with the provision of acute, rehabilitative and chronic care. As regards physician services, the range of insured services generally encompasses medically required services rendered by licensed medical practitioners as well as surgical-dental procedures that require a hospital for proper performance. Services rendered by other health care practitioners, except those required to provide necessary hospital services, are not subject to the Act's criteria.

Within these broad parameters, provinces, along with medical professionals, have the prerogative and responsibility for interpreting what physician services are medically necessary. As well, provinces determine which hospitals and hospital services are required to provide acute, rehabilitative or chronic care.

Universality

The intent of the Canada Health Act is to ensure that all bonafide residents of all provinces be entitled to coverage and to the benefits under one of the twelve provincial/territorial health care insurance plans. However, eligible residents do have the option not to participate under a provincial plan should they elect to do so.

The Agreement on Eligibility and Portability provides some helpful guidelines with respect to the determination of residency status and arrangements for obtaining and maintaining coverage. Its provisions are compatible with the Canada Health Act.

I want to say a few words about premiums. Unquestionably, provinces have the right to levy taxes and the Canada Health Act does not infringe upon that right. A premium scheme per se is not precluded by the Act, provided that the provincial health care insurance plan is operated and administered in a manner that does not deny coverage or preclude access to necessary hospital and physician services to bonafide residents of a province. Administrative arrangements should be such that residents are not precluded from or do not forego coverage by reason of an inability to pay premiums.

I am acutely aware of problems faced by some provinces in regard to tourists and visitors who may require health services while travelling in Canada. I will be undertaking a review of the current practices and procedures with my Cabinet colleagues, the Minister of External Affairs, and the Minister of Employment and Immigration, to ensure all reasonable means are taken to inform prospective visitors to Canada of the need to protect themselves with adequate health insurance coverage before entering the country.

In summary, I believe all of us as Ministers of Health are committed to the objective of ensuring that all duly qualified residents of a province obtain and retain entitlement to insured health services on uniform terms and conditions.

Portability

The intent of the portability provisions of the Canada Health Act is to provide insured persons continuing protection under their provincial health care insurance plan when they are temporarily absent from their province of residence or when moving from province to province. While temporarily in another province of Canada, bona-fide residents should not be subject to out-of-pocket costs or charges for necessary hospital and physician services. Providers should be assured of reasonable levels of payment in respect of the cost of those services.

Insofar as insured services received while outside of Canada are concerned, the intent is to assure reasonable indemnification in respect of the cost of necessary emergency hospital or physician services or for referred services not available in a province or in neighbouring provinces. Generally speaking, payment formulae tied to what would have been paid for similar services in a province would be acceptable for purposes of the Canada Health Act.

In my discussions with provincial/territorial Ministers, I detected a desire to achieve these portability objectives and to minimize the difficulties that Canadians may encounter when moving or travelling about in Canada. In order that Canadians may maintain their health insurance coverage and obtain benefits or services without undue impediment, I believe that all provincial/territorial Health Ministers are interested in seeing these services provided more efficiently and economically.

Significant progress has been made over the past few years by way of reciprocal arrangements which contribute to the achievement of the in-Canada portability objectives of the Canada Health Act. These arrangements do not interfere with the rights and prerogatives of provinces to determine and provide the coverage for services rendered in another province. Likewise, they do not deter provinces from exercising reasonable controls through prior approval mechanisms for elective procedures. I recognize that work remains to be done respecting interprovincial payment arrangements to achieve this objective, especially as it pertains to physician services.

I appreciate that all difficulties cannot be resolved overnight and that provincial plans will require sufficient time to meet the objective of ensuring no direct charges to patients for necessary hospital and physician services provided in other provinces.

For necessary services provided out-of-Canada, I am confident that we can establish acceptable standards of indemnification for essential physician and hospital services. The legislation does not define a particular formula and I would be pleased to have your views.

In order that our efforts can progress in a coordinated manner, I would propose that the Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee on Institutional and Medical Services be charged with examining various options and recommending arrangements to achieve the objectives within one year.

Reasonable Accessibility

The Act is fairly clear with respect to certain aspects of accessibility. The Act seeks to discourage all point-of-service charges for insured services provided to insured persons and to prevent adverse discrimination against any population group with respect to charges for, or necessary use of, insured services. At the same time, the Act accents a partnership between the providers of insured services and provincial plans, requiring that provincial plans have in place reasonable systems of payment or compensation for their medical practitioners in order to ensure reasonable access to users. I want to emphasize my intention to respect provincial prerogatives regarding the organization, licensing, supply, distribution of health manpower, as well as the resource allocation and priorities for health services. I want to assure you that the reasonable access provision will not be used to intervene or interfere directly in matters such as the physical and geographic availability of services or provincial governance of the institutions and professions that provide insured services. Inevitably, major issues or concerns regarding access to health care services will come to my attention. I want to assure you that my Ministry will work through and with provincial/territorial Ministers in addressing such matters.

My aim in communicating my intentions with respect to the criteria in the Canada Health Act is to allow us to work together in developing our national health insurance scheme. Through continuing dialogue, open and willing exchange of information and mutually understood rules of the road, I believe that we can implement the Canada Health Act without acrimony and conflict. It is my preference that provincial/territorial Ministers themselves be given an opportunity to interpret and apply the criteria of the Canada Health Act to their respective health care insurance plans. At the same time, I believe that all provincial/territorial Health Ministers understand and respect my accountability to the Parliament of Canada, including an annual report on the operation of provincial health care insurance plans with regard to these fundamental criteria.

Conditions

This leads me to the conditions related to the recognition of federal contributions and to the provision of information, both of which may be specified in regulations. In these matters, I will be guided by the following principles:

  1. to make as few regulations as possible and only if absolutely necessary;
  2. to rely on the goodwill of Ministers to afford appropriate recognition of Canada's role and contribution and to provide necessary information voluntarily for purposes of administering the Act and reporting to Parliament;
  3. to employ consultation processes and mutually beneficial information exchanges as the preferred ways and means of implementing and administering the Canada Health Act;
  4. to use existing means of exchanging information of mutual benefit to all our governments.

Regarding recognition by provincial/territorial governments of federal health contributions, I am satisfied that we can easily agree on appropriate recognition, in the normal course of events. The best form of recognition in my view is the demonstration to the public that as Ministers of Health we are working together in the interests of the taxpayer and patient.

In regard to information, I remain committed to maintaining and improving national data systems on a collaborative and co-operative basis. These systems serve many purposes and provide governments, as well as other agencies, organizations, and the general public, with essential data about our health care system and the health status of our population. I foresee a continuing, co-operative partnership committed to maintaining and improving health information systems in such areas as morbidity, mortality, health status, health services operations, utilization, health care costs and financing.

I firmly believe that the federal government need not regulate these matters. Accordingly, I do not intend to use the regulatory authority respecting information requirements under the Canada Health Act to expand, modify or change these broad-based data systems and exchanges. In order to keep information flows related to the Canada Health Act to an economical minimum, I see only two specific and essential information transfer mechanisms:

  1. estimates and statements on extra-billing and user charges;
  2. an annual provincial statement (perhaps in the form of a letter to me) to be submitted approximately six months after the completion of each fiscal year, describing the respective provincial health care insurance plan's operations as they relate to the criteria and conditions of the Canada Health Act.

Concerning Item 1 above, I propose to put in place on-going regulations that are identical in content to those that have been accepted for 1985-86. Draft regulations are attached as Annex I. To assist with the preparation of the "annual provincial statement" referred to in Item 2 above, I have developed the general guidelines attached as Annex II. Beyond these specific exchanges, I am confident that voluntary, mutually beneficial exchange of such subjects as Acts, regulations and program descriptions will continue.

One matter brought up in the course of our earlier meetings, is the question of whether estimates or deductions of user charges and extra-billing should be based on "amounts charged" or "amounts collected". The Act clearly states that deductions are to be based on amounts charged. However, with respect to user fees, certain provincial plans appear to pay these charges indirectly on behalf of certain individuals. Where a provincial plan demonstrates that it reimburses providers for amounts charged but not collected, say in respect of social assistance recipients or unpaid accounts, consideration will be given to adjusting estimates/deductions accordingly.

I want to emphasize that where a provincial plan does authorize user charges, the entire scheme must be consistent with the intent of the reasonable accessibility criterion as set forth [in this letter].

Regulations

Aside from the recognition and information regulations referred to above, the Act provides for regulations concerning hospital services exclusions and regulations defining extended health care services.

As you know, the Act provides that there must be consultation and agreement of each and every province with respect to such regulations. My consultations with you have brought to light few concerns with the attached draft set of Exclusions from Hospital Services Regulations.

Likewise, I did not sense concerns with proposals for regulations defining Extended Health Care Services. These help provide greater clarity for provinces to interpret and administer current plans and programs. They do not alter significantly or substantially those that have been in force for eight years under Part VI of the Federal Post-Secondary Education and Health Contributions Act (1977). It may well be, however, as we begin to examine the future challenges to health care that we should re-examine these definitions.

This letter strives to set out flexible, reasonable and clear ground rules to facilitate provincial, as much as federal, administration of the Canada Health Act. It encompasses many complex matters including criteria interpretations, federal policy concerning conditions and proposed regulations. I realize, of course, that a letter of this sort cannot cover every single matter of concern to every provincial Minister of Health. Continuing dialogue and communication are essential.

In conclusion, may I express my appreciation for your assistance in bringing about what I believe is a generally accepted concurrence of views in respect of interpretation and implementation. As I mentioned at the outset of this letter, I would appreciate an early written indication of your views on the proposals for regulations appended to this letter. It is my intention to write to you in the near future with regard to the voluntary information exchanges which we have discussed in relation to administering the Act and reporting to Parliament.

Yours truly,

Jake Epp
Attachments

[Following is the text of the letter sent on January 6, 1995 to all provincial and territorial Ministers of Health by the Federal Minister of Health, the Honourable Diane Marleau.]

January 6, 1995

Dear Minister:

RE: Canada Health Act

The Canada Health Act has been in force now for just over a decade. The principles set out in the Act (public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility) continue to enjoy the support of all provincial and territorial governments. This support is shared by the vast majority of Canadians. At a time when there is concern about the potential erosion of the publicly funded and publicly administered health care system, it is vital to safeguard these principles.

As was evident and a concern to many of us at the recent Halifax meeting, a trend toward divergent interpretations of the Act is developing. While I will deal with other issues at the end of this letter, my primary concern is with private clinics and facility fees. The issue of private clinics is not new to us as Ministers of Health; it formed an important part of our discussions in Halifax last year. For reasons I will set out below, I am convinced that the growth of a second tier of health care facilities providing medically necessary services that operate, totally or in large part, outside the publicly funded and publicly administered system, presents a serious threat to Canada's health care system.

Specifically, and most immediately, I believe the facility fees charged by private clinics for medically necessary services are a major problem which must be dealt with firmly. It is my position that such fees constitute user charges and, as such, contravene the principle of accessibility set out in the Canada Health Act.

While there is no definition of facility fees in federal or most provincial legislation, the term, generally speaking, refers to amounts charged for non-physician (or "hospital") services provided at clinics and not reimbursed by the province. Where these fees are charged for medically necessary services in clinics which receive funding for these services under a provincial health insurance plan, they constitute a financial barrier to access. As a result, they violate the user charge provision of the Act (section 19).

Facility fees are objectionable because they impede access to medically necessary services. Moreover, when clinics which receive public funds for medically necessary services also charge facility fees, people who can afford the fees are being directly subsidized by all other Canadians. This subsidization of two-tier health care is unacceptable.

The formal basis for my position on facility fees is twofold. The first is a matter of policy. In the context of contemporary health care delivery, an interpretation which permits facility fees for medically necessary services so long as the provincial health insurance plan covers physician fees runs counter to the spirit and intent of the Act. While the appropriate provision of many physician services at one time required an overnight stay in a hospital, advances in medical technology and the trend toward providing medical services in more accessible settings has made it possible to offer a wide range of medical procedures on an out-patient basis or outside of full-service hospitals. The accessibility criterion in the Act, of which the user charge provision is just a specific example, was clearly intended to ensure that Canadian residents receive all medically necessary care without financial or other barriers and regardless of venue. It must continue to mean that as the nature of medical practice evolves.

Second, as a matter of legal interpretation, the definition of "hospital" set out in the Act includes any facility which provides acute, rehabilitative or chronic care. This definition covers those health care facilities known as "clinics". As a matter of both policy and legal interpretation, therefore, where a provincial plan pays the physician fee for a medically necessary service delivered at a clinic, it must also pay for the related hospital services provided or face deductions for user charges.

I recognize that this interpretation will necessitate some changes in provinces where clinics currently charge facility fees for medically necessary services. As I do not wish to cause undue hardship to those provinces, I will commence enforcement of this interpretation as of October 15, 1995. This will allow the provinces the time to put into place the necessary legislative or regulatory framework. As of October 15, 1995, I will proceed to deduct from transfer payments any amounts charged for facility fees in respect of medically necessary services, as mandated by section 20 of the Canada Health Act. I believe this provides a reasonable transition period, given that all provinces have been aware of my concerns with respect to private clinics for some time, and given the promising headway already made by the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Advisory Committee on Health Services, which has been working for some time now on the issue of private clinics.

I want to make it clear that my intent is not to preclude the use of clinics to provide medically necessary ser- vices. I realize that in many situations they are a cost-effective way to deliver services, often in a technologically advanced manner. However, it is my intention to ensure that medically necessary services are provided on uniform terms and conditions, wherever they are offered. The principles of the Canada Health Act are supple enough to accommodate the evolution of medical science and of health care delivery. This evolution must not lead, however, to a two-tier system of health care.

I indicated earlier in this letter that, while user charges for medically necessary services are my most immediate concern, I am also concerned about the more general issues raised by the proliferation of private clinics. In particular, I am concerned about their potential to restrict access by Canadian residents to medically necessary services by eroding our publicly funded system. These concerns were reflected in the policy statement which resulted from the Halifax meeting. Ministers of Health present, with the exception of the Alberta Minister, agreed to:

take whatever steps are required to regulate the development of private clinics in Canada, and to maintain a high quality, publicly funded medicare system.

Private clinics raise several concerns for the federal government, concerns which provinces share. These relate to:

  • weakened public support for the tax funded and publicly administered system;
  • the diminished ability of governments to control costs once they have shifted from the public to the private sector;
  • the possibility, supported by the experience of other jurisdictions, that private facilities will concentrate on easy procedures, leaving public facilities to handle more complicated, costly cases; and
  • the ability of private facilities to offer financial incentives to health care providers that could draw them away from the public system-resources may also be devoted to features which attract consumers, without in any way contributing to the quality of care.

The only way to deal effectively with these concerns is to regulate the operation of private clinics.

I now call on Ministers in provinces which have not already done so to introduce regulatory frameworks to govern the operation of private clinics. I would emphasize that, while my immediate concern is the elimination of user charges, it is equally important that these regulatory frameworks be put in place to ensure reasonable access to medically necessary services and to support the viability of the publicly funded and administered system in the future. I do not feel the implementation of such frameworks should be long delayed.

I welcome any questions you may have with respect to my position on private clinics and facility fees. My officials are willing to meet with yours at any time to discuss these matters. I believe that our officials need to focus their attention, in the coming weeks, on the broader concerns about private clinics referred to above.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this letter, divergent interpretations of the Canada Health Act apply to a number of other practices. It is always my preference that matters of interpretation of the Act be resolved by finding a Federal/Provincial/Territorial consensus consistent with its fundamental principles. I have therefore encouraged F/P/T consultations in all cases where there are disagreements. In situations such as out-of-province or out-of-country coverage, I remain committed to following through on these consultative processes as long as they continue to promise a satisfactory conclusion in a reasonable time.

In closing, I would like to quote Mr. Justice Emmett M. Hall. In 1980, he reminded us:

we, as a society, are aware that the trauma of illness, the pain of surgery, the slow decline to death, are burdens enough for the human being to bear without the added burden of medical or hospital bills penalizing the patient at the moment of vulnerability.

I trust that, mindful of these words, we will continue to work together to ensure the survival, and renewal, of what is perhaps our finest social project.

As the issues addressed in this letter are of great concern to Canadians, I intend to make this letter publicly available once all provincial Health Ministers have received it.

Yours sincerely,

Diane Marleau
Minister of Health

Annex C - Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Process under the Canada Health Act

In April 2002, the Honourable A. Anne McLellan outlined in a letter to her provincial and territorial counterparts a Canada Health Act Dispute Avoidance and Resolution process, which was agreed to by provinces and territories, except Quebec. The process meets federal and provincial/territorial interests of avoiding disputes related to the interpretation of the principles of the Canada Health Act, and when this is not possible, resolving disputes in a fair, transparent and timely manner.

The process includes the dispute avoidance activities of government-to-government information exchange; discussions and clarification of issues, as they arise; active participation of governments in ad hoc federal/provincial/territorial committees on Canada Health Act issues; and Canada Health Act advance assessments, upon request.

Where dispute avoidance activities prove unsuccessful, dispute resolution activities may be initiated, beginning with government-to-government fact-finding and negotiations. If these are unsuccessful, either Minister of Health involved may refer the issues to a third party panel to undertake fact-finding and provide advice and recommendations.

The federal Minister of Health has the final authority to interpret and enforce the Canada Health Act. In deciding whether to invoke the non-compliance provisions of the Act, the Minister will take the panel's report into consideration.

In September 2004, the agreement reached between the provinces and territories in 2002 was formalized by First Ministers, thereby reaffirming their commitment to use the Canada Health Act dispute avoidance and resolution process to deal with Canada Health Act interpretation issues.

On the following pages you will find the full text of Minister McLellan's letter to the Honourable Gary Mar, as well as a fact sheet on the Canada Health Act Dispute Avoidance and Resolution process.

 

Minister of Health

Ottawa, Canada K1A 0K9

April 2, 2002

The Honourable Gary Mar, M.L.A.
Minister of Health and Wellness
Province of Alberta
Room 323, Legislature Building
Edmonton, Alberta
T5K 2B6

Dear Mr. Mar:

I am writing in fulfilment of my commitment to move forward on dispute avoidance and resolution as it applies to the interpretation of the principles of the Canada Health Act.

I understand the importance provincial and territorial governments attach to having a third party provide advice and recommendations when differences occur regarding the interpretation of the Canada Health Act. This feature has been incorporated in the approach to the Canada Health Act Dispute Avoidance and Resolution process set out below. I believe this approach will enable us to avoid and resolve issues related to the interpretation of the principles of the Canada Health Act in a fair, transparent and timely manner.

Dispute Avoidance

The best way to resolve a dispute is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. The federal government has rarely resorted to penalties and only when all other efforts to resolve the issue have proven unsuccessful. Dispute avoidance has worked for us in the past and it can serve our shared interests in the future. Therefore, it is important that governments continue to participate actively in ad hoc federal/provincial/territorial committees on Canada Health Act issues and undertake government-to-government information exchange, discussions and clarification on issues as they arise.

Moreover, Health Canada commits to provide advance assessments to any province or territory upon request.

Dispute Resolution

Where the dispute avoidance activities between the federal government and a provincial or territorial government prove unsuccessful, either Minister of Health involved may initiate dispute resolution by writing to his or her counterpart. Such a letter would describe the issue in dispute. If initiated, dispute resolution will precede any action taken under the non-compliance provisions of the Act.

As a first step, governments involved in the dispute will, within 60 days of the date of the letter initiating the process, jointly:

  • collect and share all relevant facts;
  • prepare a fact-finding report;
  • negotiate to resolve the issue in dispute; and
  • prepare a report on how the issue was resolved.

If, however, there is no agreement on the facts, or if negotiations fail to resolve the issue, any Minister of Health involved in the dispute may initiate the process to refer the issue to a third party panel by writing to his or her counterpart. Within 30 days of the date of that letter, a panel will be struck. The panel will be composed of one provincial/territorial appointee and one federal appointee who, together, will select a chairperson. The panel will assess the issue in dispute in accordance with the provisions of the Canada Health Act, will undertake fact-finding and provide advice and recommendations. It will then report to the governments involved on the issue within 60 days of appointment.

The Minister of Health for Canada has the final authority to interpret and enforce the Canada Health Act. In deciding whether to invoke the non-compliance provisions of the Act, the Minister of Health for Canada will take the panel's report into consideration.

Public Reporting

Governments will report publicly on Canada Health Act dispute avoidance and resolution activities, including any panel report.

I believe that the Government of Canada has followed through on its September 2000 Health Agreement commitments by providing funding of $21.1 billion in the fiscal framework and by working collaboratively in other areas identified in the agreement. I expect that provincial and territorial premiers and Health Ministers will honour their commitment to the health system accountability framework agreed to by First Ministers in September 2000. The work of officials on performance indicators has been collaborative and effective to date. Canadians will expect us to report on the full range of indicators by the agreed deadline of September 2002. While I am aware that some jurisdictions may not be able to fully report on all indicators in this timeframe, public accountability is an essential component of our effort to renew Canada's health care system. As such, it is very important that all jurisdictions work to report on the full range of indicators in subsequent reports.

In addition, I hope that all provincial and territorial governments will participate in and complete the joint review process agreed to by all Premiers who signed the Social Union Framework Agreement.

The Canada Health Act Dispute Avoidance and Resolution process outlined in this letter is simple and straightforward. Should adjustments be necessary in the future, I commit to review the process with you and other Provincial/Territorial Ministers of Health. By using this approach, we will demonstrate to Canadians that we are committed to strengthening and preserving medicare by preventing and resolving Canada Health Act disputes in a fair and timely manner.

Yours sincerely,

A. Anne McLellan

Fact Sheet: Canada Health Act Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Process

Scope

The provisions described apply to the interpretation of the principles of the Canada Health Act.

Dispute Avoidance

To avoid and prevent disputes, governments will continue to:

  • participate actively in ad hoc federal/provincial/ territorial committees on Canada Health Act issues; and
  • undertake government-to-government information exchange, discussions and clarification on issues as they arise.

Health Canada commits to provide advance assessments to any province or territory upon request.

Dispute Resolution

Where the dispute avoidance activities between the federal government and a provincial or territorial government prove unsuccessful, either Minister of Health involved may initiate dispute resolution by writing to his or her counterpart. Such a letter would describe the issue in dispute. If initiated, dispute resolution will precede any action taken under the non-compliance provisions of the Act.

As a first step, governments involved in the dispute will, within 60 days of the date of the letter initiating the process, jointly:

  • collect and share all relevant facts;
  • prepare a fact-finding report;
  • negotiate to resolve the issue in dispute; and
  • prepare a report on how the issue was resolved.

If however, there is no agreement on the facts, or if negotiations fail to resolve the issue, any Minister of Health involved in the dispute may initiate the process to refer the issue to a third party panel by writing to his or her counterpart.

  • Within 30 days of the date of that letter, a panel will be struck. The panel will be composed of one provincial/territorial appointee and one federal appointee, who, together will select a chairperson.
  • The panel will assess the issue in dispute in accordance with the provisions of the Canada Health Act, will undertake fact-finding and provide advice and recommendations.
  • The panel will then report to the governments involved on the issue within 60 days of appointment.

The Minister of Health for Canada has the final authority to interpret and enforce the Canada Health Act. In deciding whether to invoke the non-compliance provisions of the Act, the Minister of Health for Canada will take the panel's report into consideration.

Public Reporting

Governments will report publicly on Canada Health Act dispute avoidance and resolution activities, including any panel report.

Review

Should adjustments be necessary in the future, the Minister of Health for Canada commits to review the process with Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health.

Contact Information for Provincial and Territorial Departments of Health

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