Alberta health minister calls on federal Liberals to reverse military health payment changes | Edmonton Journal

The federal Liberals should reverse their move to provide provinces with lower payments for health care for members of the military, Alberta’s health minister said.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro gathered reporters on the steps of the legislature Wednesday to say new reimbursement rates to the province from the federal Department of National Defence fail to cover the cost of hospital care and surgeries for members of the Canadian military.


Health Minister Tyler Shandro speaks on the recent federal cuts to health care for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, in Edmonton, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019.

Ed Kaiser /

Postmedia

“I’m dismayed by the way that the decision was made. We weren’t consulted. We had no input,” Shandro said. “The decision is disrespectful toward the provinces and it’s hypocritical given (Liberal Leader) Justin Trudeau’s recent commitments to expand medical care.”

The Canadian Armed Forces is responsible for the health care of its members. Many services are provided by the military, but members also seek treatment in civilian hospitals and clinics, which are reimbursed by the federal government.

Global News revealed Tuesday the federal government had rolled back military medical care payments to provinces. Shandro’s press secretary, Steve Buick, said Wednesday the DND’s surgeon general informed the Alberta government on June 10 the Canadian Armed Forces had changed its policy on fees paid to hospitals as of May 1, 2019.

In the midst of a federal election, Liberal candidates on Wednesday defended the move, saying the provinces are billing the military higher rates for the same services offered to other Canadians.

That is wrong and unfair,” said Randy Boissonnault, Liberal candidate for Edmonton-Centre, in a statement. “We are currently working closely with provincial and territorial governments to address this issue.”

He said the billing changes did not cut services to military members and hospitals and care providers wouldn’t be “negatively impacted.”

‘One more pick at the scab’

Shandro said members of the military seeking provincial health services in Alberta were charged the same rate as patients from out of the province. There’s no premium, he said — the military is billed at cost.

He pointed to one procedure that costs $1,400 for which the military is paying the Alberta government $200.

The switch in policy will cost the Alberta government an estimated $2 million this year. Shandro said the dispute will not interfere with military members receiving health care in Alberta.

Shandro said he’d be writing to Harjit Sajjan, who was federal defence minister when parliament dissolved, requesting he reverse the changes. Shandro is also trying to drum up support from his counterparts in other provinces.

On Wednesday, Shandro was flanked by MLA Brad Rutherford, the government’s liaison to the military, and former Edmonton Conservative MP and retired Lt.-Col. Laurie Hawn, who served with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Hawn said the move is “one more pick at the scab” for people serving in the military and veterans.

At a campaign stop in Ontario, Trudeau blasted Conservatives for using the disagreement to score political points.

Ontario’s Health Minister, Christine Elliott, has also written to Sajjan, calling the situation “unacceptable.”

– With files from Canadian Press and Jeff Labine

This content was originally published here.

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