NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Aboriginal Health Care in Canada

May 11, 2004

Plans to offer magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to paying customers from Canada's indigenous communities have raised fears that their proposed clinic will undermine Canada's publicly funded health care system, say observers.

Canada does not have a private health system, and there is ongoing debate in Canada over whether private services should be allowed and in what form.

  • The MRI clinic would be built on land owned in east Saskatoon by the Muskeg Lake Cree nation and would serve the aboriginal community, clients of the Workers Compensation Board, and patients referred by doctors.
  • Canada's aboriginal peoples are self governing, but their health care is provided under the medical services branch of the federal health department through the national health care system.

Norman Laberge, chief executive officer of the Canadian Association of Radiologists, said in an article in the Canadian Medical Association's journal that he feared that the project could open the door to private health care services on aboriginal land across the country.

Provincial laws governing health care have no jurisdiction on land controlled by aboriginal governments, meaning they can opt for fee for service procedures, foreign partnerships and diagnoses made overseas.

Source: David Spurgeon, "Plans for clinic raise fears of privatization in Canada," British Medical Journal, April 24, 2004.


Browse more articles on Health Issues