Major review of Manitoba's health system coming this week

Major review of Manitoba's health system coming this week

Premier Brian Pallister was asked whether the relatively new Timely Care Clinic was legal under the Canada Health Act when he casually dropped a health care bombshell. 

A big review on the health care system is coming this week, Pallister says.

"I'm more concerned with results. I've said that repeatedly. I am very interested in seeing the reform package come forward that is based on a lot of research, a lot of consultation, and that will be later this week," Pallister told reporters.

He would only hint at the details. 

"There is a report coming out this week that will give everyone — in Manitoba and elsewhere — an opportunity to have a look at what we are proposing in the way of reforming health care and making it better," Pallister said.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen put out a statement later in the day clarifying what was coming.

"I can confirm that government will be participating in a region-led healthcare announcement later this week. Additionally, our government will be releasing the results of our pre-budget consultations which contain over 6,000 responses from stakeholders in advance of the April 11 budget." 

Pallister said the review is based on thousands of hours in input and research from "experts that work in the frontline of health care."

"It's going to be pretty meaty and it's going to be the subject of a lot of debate and we are excited about that. We are not going to run away from the challenges we face," Pallister said.

The review represents his government's position on how to improve service and drop wait times in Manitoba, he said.

'Nurse-practitioner police' 

Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen wouldn't provide any details of the coming review but did take questions on the legality of the Timely Care Clinic.

Goertzen said at first look, the clinic doesn't appear to breach the Canada Health Act, but it does bear more scrutiny.

"It's been around two days since we've had this on our radar. So, I don't think we don't want to either overreact or underreact. I think in the health care system sometimes we can be guilty of both," Goertzen says.

Goertzen said looking more closely at what Timely Care is doing doesn't mean shutting the company down.

"I think we keep an eye on everything that's happening in the health care system, but no, we have not sent out the nurse-practitioner police or anything," Goertzen said.

Recently the government chose to close a Quick Care clinic in Winnipeg. 

The NDP opposition said the government should focus on re-opening and staffing those clinics, and is suspicious of Timely Care's legality in the context of the Canada Health Act.

"I think at the very least the spirit of the Canada Health Act is being violated by providing a service that isn't fully accessible and universal to all," said NDP health critic Matt Wiebe.

Wiebe also welcomed the PC's coming health care review, saying after a year in government "it was about time."