CHARBONNEAU – Bring private clinics into the healthcare fold

WITH NO WALK-IN CLINICS in many cities such as Kamloops, the last thing the B.C. government needs to do is crack down on existing private ones. They should be integrated into our healthcare delivery system.

But no, our health insurance commission is taking Telus Health to court.

There are three Telus Health Care Centres clinics in Vancouver and one in Victoria with plans to expand. They are not walk-in clinics but they could be.

They charge for sessions with mental health specialists, Clinical Psychologist and Registered Dietitian. It will cost you up to $225 per session.

True, BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) will cover the cost of some of these specialists but only when referred to by your family doctor. And with a million British Columbians without a family doctor, your chances of seeing a specialist are close to zero.

Telus Health is not breaking the law by charging for access to these specialists because they are not covered by MSP.

In principle, those who can pay should not have greater access to health care than those who can’t.

But Telus provides free health care for things not covered by MSP through their “Health for Good” programs. They provide access to primary and mental health services for homeless and marginalized persons through Mobile Health Clinics and online sessions.

The B.C. Medical Services Commission claims that Telus’ LifePlus program is breaking the law by charging patients for services that should be publicly covered.

Maybe so. The court case is ongoing and depends on just what is covered by MSP.

The Medical Services Commission’s claim is based on a probe done by a private investigator, a would-be patient. The investigator was told they would have to pay an annual fee to see a family doctor, which isn’t allowed under the Medical Protection Act.

The act ensures access to necessary medical care should be based on need, not an individual’s ability to pay.

The case against Telus Health is complicated by the fact that Telus Health provides free online consultations to B.C. residents covered by MSP. You can choose the doctor you want to see, book a time, and have prescriptions made.

Telus Health denied the accusations, saying its program is only trying to relieve pressure on the public system.

A spokesperson for the LifePlus program says its fees — $4,650 in the first year and $3,650 in subsequent years — are not for primary care and “strictly” for uninsured services like dietitians, kinesiologists and other health and wellness needs.

If true, LifePlus is operating within the Medical Protection Act.

I have proposed the construction of medical clinics based the model used by BC Housing to address the housing shortage. Clinics would be built by “BC Clinics” and handed over to non-profit societies who would rent out space and pay the mortgage.

Now I would include Telus’ privately-run clinics to provide healthcare for all. They would bill MSP as any doctor would. The province would pay Telus for the operation of the clinic.

It might seem outrageous that the province would pay for the operation of private clinics but not considering the cost of building and staffing clinics –which we desperately need.

David Charbonneau is a retired TRU electronics instructor who hosts a blog at

About Mel Rothenburger (9634 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on CHARBONNEAU – Bring private clinics into the healthcare fold

  1. Various governments have repeatedly failed in providing adequate, reliable and effective health care. So much money has been thrown around with so little results.
    I am a recent recipient of a full knee replacement surgery. I experienced shortcomings in the provision of adequate post-op support which flies in the face of even the CMA mandate in regards to the “heath care continuum”. At this point I am now more and more of the idea for health care delivery by the private sector. What we have isn’t working. We need accountability. We need accountability for the doctors, the nurses and everyone else involved in delivering health care. Potentially the private sector can inherently provide better health care outcomes.

    • Sheila Park // March 23, 2023 at 9:21 AM // Reply

      Like in the USA???? Really. Glad you got your knee replacement.
      Average cost in USA about $32,000.00 ($14,000 – $50,000.00).
      Lets fix what we have. People fought for Medicare because they could not afford private care. Do some research on why.

      • Next knee will be in the USA. I had it with “free” Medicare. I want timely care with good outcomes.

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