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Liberals offer guaranteed health-care wait times

Liberal leader Paul Martin announces a 'patient charter' to set limits on wait times, allow patients to travel if those times are exceeded.

Liberal Leader Paul Martin put his election focus on health care Wednesday, promising to shorten wait times for key medical procedures in a "patient charter."

Martin was in Victoria to announce a Canada Health Care Guarantee that would set limits for wait times, even if patients need to be moved out of their home areas.

Martin said his plan would keep the money in the public health care system. "We will not finance care within a private system or in the United States," he said.

The plan also includes a promised $100 million over five years to add 1,000 new family doctors to the health-care system, and a mobility fund to cover travel.

The travel fund would allow patients to get treatment in other provinces if the wait time at home were too long.

There's also a new national cancer strategy worth $300 million over five years, which is intended to reduce cancer wait times and improve the quality of care.

The plan also calls for a new Canadian mental health commission to be established.

The plan extends the 10-year health-care plan set out by the Liberal government.

The existing plan focuses on five key areas, including cancer treatment, joint replacement and diagnostic imaging.

The Conservatives earlier announced it would establish wait times for various services and ensure they're adhered to strictly if elected in the Jan. 23 election.