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NEWS RELEASE · 23rd November 2012
Hill Times
Private insurance system 'workable solution' for Canada's rising health care costs, Harper said as NCC head

David Gratzer 'proposes workable solution' for 'government-controlled health care monopoly, Canada needs Gratzer’s new prescription,' said Prime Minister Stephen Harper about Mr. Gratzer's recommendations for a form of private medical savings accounts popular in the U.S. in a review of his book Code Blue.

Liberal Party of Canada Advertisement
Retraction: The Liberal Party had to retract the source of this election campaign ad Monday as it was not PM Stephen Harper who said 'It's past time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act.'

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as president of the right-wing National Citizens Coalition in 1999, endorsed a proposal for a separate private health insurance system in Canada as a “workable solution” for rising costs and problems with medicare.

Mr. Harper made the written comment—calling medicare a “government-controlled health care monopoly”—two years after the former president of the NCC, David Somerville, called for an end to the Canada Health Act, which gives the federal government the power to enforce medicare principles across the country and ensure the provincial governments, responsible for delivering health care, comply.

The Liberal Party on Monday retracted portions of an election campaign ad that had attributed the call for an end to the Canada Health Act to Mr. Harper. The Conservatives accused the Liberals of purposefully misquoting the Prime Minister, because they had already attributed the statement to Mr. Somerville, in a 2004 election campaign ad.

The Liberals acknowledged later Monday the statement came from Mr. Somerville, published in a June 1997 NCC newsletter when Mr. Somerville was the group’s president and Mr. Harper its vice-president. But the Liberal campaign insisted that Mr. Harper has indicated in past statements he supports Mr. Somerville’s view.

A search of a Library of Parliament news database found a 1999 quotation from Mr. Harper in the Saint John Times Globe, now the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, among one of several reviews of a scathing book on the Canadian health system by University of Manitoba medical student David Gratzer. In the final chapter of Code Blue: Reviving Canada’s Health Care System, Mr. Gratzer recommends a form of private medical savings accounts for employees, combined with a separate insurance plan for catastrophic medical situations, that had become popular in the United States. He appears to set out a system similar generally to the U.S., where a basic public system serves as a net for individuals who cannot afford private insurance or do not have employer-paid insurance.

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