CANADIAN GOVERNMENT PROPOSES MEASURES TO STRENGTHEN PUBLIC HEALTHCARE

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Canada's ruling Liberal party has outlined a number of initiatives designed to strengthen public healthcare in the country. However, attempts to force the changes through the Canadian parliament are being hampered by a lack of support from government allies such as the New Democratic Party.

The measures have included introducing conditions to ensure that all future healthcare funding investment in Canada will be solely used in the public health system. Also, the practice of "double dipping" -- whereby doctors in the public system offer patients quicker treatment in private hospitals or clinics for a higher fee -- will be outlawed. Finally, the government is proposing to introduce an information base so that the activities of the private sector within the healthcare system can be better monitored.

The reforms come a year after the government introduced the Health Accord, a ten-year CAD41bn (US$34.93bn) plan to boost public health provision and cut waiting times for key hospital procedures. The NDP claims that the government's reforms do not go far enough in curbing the private sector and the party is reported to be considering a vote against the bill.