Government document questions legality of private health care clinic

Officials raise “serious concerns” that Copeman Clinic is breaking the law

Edmonton – Senior government staff question the legality of the Copeman Clinic, a private health care clinic, according to an internal government document obtained by the Alberta Federation of Labour.

In a report drafted in January 2013, government officials flagged numerous practices at the clinic that could put it in contravention of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act.

“Many Albertans have been concerned that the Copeman Clinic operates outside of the law,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “Turns out, Alberta Health officials shared these concerns.”

The ‘Advice to the Minster’ document, obtained through Alberta’s Freedom of Information system, was drafted after Copeman’s Executive Director Rick Tiedemann’s commented in the media about user fees and the number of patients Copeman’s physicians see.

“Albertans rejected two-tiered health care during Ralph Klein’s ill-fated ‘Third Way’ boondoggle, but the Redford Government is ignoring public opinion, ignoring the advice of their own officials, and turning a blind eye to this clinic’s unCanadian practices,” McGowan said. “They’re allowing the creation of U.S.-inspired private, for-profit health care in Alberta.”

The government document states that the statement made by Copeman’s Tiedemann on user fees “raises serious concerns that the Copeman Healthcare Centre may be in contravention of the AHCIA [Alberta Health Care Insurance Act] since membership fees may be considered extra billing.”

Copeman’s physicians see fewer patients than a typical practitioner in the public system. The government document notes that Copeman may be violating the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act “by voluntarily limiting their practice to only individuals who can pay the membership fees.” Typical family doctors see 2,000 to 3,000 patients. Those working at the Copeman Clinic see no more than 450.

“This puts a strain on the rest of Alberta’s healthcare system. It makes it more difficult for everyday Albertans to find a family doctor, and it means longer wait times,” McGowan said. “It means that medical care is not prioritized to the people who need it most.”

The document advises the minister that there should be a more thorough investigation into the practices at the clinic. However, in the time since the report was written, the government has not taken action, and there have been no changes to the operation of the Copeman Clinic.

“The Copeman Clinic is still behaving in the same way that government officials flagged as potentially illegal,” McGowan said. “Albertans deserve a thorough investigation of private health care clinics.”

Advice to Minister – Concerns on Legality of Copeman Clinic



Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell)
or via e-mail