Quebec's Education Minister, Yves Bolduc, says he will repay $27,072 to the province's health insurance board and donate $28,000 for premiums he received for taking on new patients that he then subsequently abandoned after he again became a minister.
Nineteen months elapsed between the end of Bolduc's term as health minister and the beginning of his term as education minister. During that time, he sat as a member of the Opposition, and as a general practitioner, receiving $215,000 for taking on 1,500 new patients.
Today the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) released a statement claiming Bolduc collected premiums for patients he has not followed up with at least once in a 12-month period, as is required of all family physicians.
RAMQ said that between April 23, 2013 and April 23, 2014, Bolduc enrolled about 400 new patients, for which he received an amount of $54,145.
In a statement, the minister said he was "sorry about the debate that was raised" by the incident.
"I am very unhappy that this has become a controversy, when my only goal was to serve my patients while being a devoted MNA," said Bolduc.
Former Quebec health minister Claude Castonguay — who helped bring Medicare to Quebec under the Jean Lesage government — told CBC News that Bolduc should both resign from the legislature and reimburse the $215,000.
Bolduc's patient load entitled him to a premium of between $100 and $200 a person, thanks to an incentive program meant to encourage doctors who already work in hospitals, clinics and emergency rooms to take on patients seeking family doctors.
Premier Philippe Couillard said that because of the controversy, it will be necessary to revise the criteria for the bonus program.