The federal government is clawing back $1.3 million in health transfer payments from New Brunswick mainly in response to user fees that patients paid for medically necessary services.
“There should be no fees for medically necessary health-care services, wherever people may live in this country,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said at a news conference Friday in Ottawa.
A total of $1,277,659 will be taken back based on a federal estimate of how much New Brunswickers paid for diagnostic imaging such as MRI and CT scans in 2020-21.
A further $64,850 is being clawed back because of abortion access in the province.
The $1,342,509 total represents a sliver of the $1 billion Canada Health Transfer payment from the federal government to New Brunswick for 2023-24.
It represents an even smaller portion of the $3.2 billion the province planned to spend on health in the current fiscal year.
Overall, the federal government is clawing back $82.5 million from provinces across the country. Half of that is from Quebec.
The Canada Health Act prohibits charging “insured persons” for medically necessary services.
The minister said the deductions could be refunded if provinces change their approach so people don’t pay fees for medically necessary care. Duclos pointed to British Columbia, which has seen its deductions reduced after making changes.
The deduction for abortion relates to the lack of abortion services outside hospitals in New Brunswick.
Abortions up to 13 weeks of pregnancy are covered by Medicare at two hospitals in Moncton and one in Bathurst.
However, it has refused to fund the procedure at the private Clinic 554 in Fredericton. The province has said the hospital services are sufficient to meet demand.
A federally commissioned study on the issue is expected to be completed in June.
The province said in a statement Friday that it is aware of the federal decision and is assessing its implications.