Liberal health critic Adil Shamji wants the province to ban private-pay nurse practitioner clinics instead of waiting on the feds to do so. His private member’s bill, to be tabled Wednesday afternoon, would do just that. The Keeping Primary Care Fair Act would also increase penalties for breaking the law. Shamji shared an advance copy with The Trillium.

As primary care shortages persist in Ontario, private-payer nurse practitioner clinics have come under scrutiny for openly charging patients fees to access primary care services normally provided by a family doctor.

Though charging for services covered under provincial medicare programs is illegal under the Canada Health Act, some nurse practitioners say they’re exempt because they’re not allowed to bill public insurance. Not everyone agrees with that interpretation.

“The reality is that there’s something that can be done right now by the provincial Minister of Health, and she is, in my opinion, refusing deliberately to act,” he said.

Two other Conservative-led provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan, have taken steps to bring nurse practitioners under the public system, he noted. Ontario also funds some public nurse practitioner clinics that do not charge patients. Shamji’s bill would not affect those.

As the Ford government expands publicly funded, privately delivered health care, Shamji said he’s convinced [Ford’s Health Minister] Jones has “a deliberate privatization agenda that is communicated, if not by her words, certainly by her actions.”