North

Doctor's notes to cost $23 across the N.W.T., according to new fee structure

Nahendeh MLA Shane Thompson is disappointed he had to find out about a newly implemented medical fee structure from a constituent.

N.W.T. lays out new price list for medical services required for work, travel

'If I only heard about it through a constituent that means a lot of people haven't heard about it,' said Shane Thompson, MLA for Nahendeh, of a new medical fee structure. (CBC)

Nahendeh MLA Shane Thompson is disappointed he had to find out about a newly implemented medical fee structure from a constituent.

"If I only heard about it through a constituent that means a lot of people haven't heard about it," said Thompson.

On July 1, the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA) implemented consistent fees across the territory for any services that aren't considered medically necessary.

Those include things like a basic medical exam or lab work that's required by an employer or workplace licensing body, or vaccinations needed for travel. It also includes the cost of doctor's notes, which is now pegged at $23.

A poster, shared on Facebook, from the N.W.T.'s Health and Social Services Authority. (GNWT/Facebook)

Other fees include $163 for a basic medical exam that takes about 20 minutes, or $245 for a more detailed exam that takes about 40 minutes. A medical report will cost $50 and other services, such as laboratory work, will also have fees attached.

On its website, the department notes that the "fees are not new. Health Authorities in the NWT already charge fees. We are working together to make sure the fees are the same across the NWT."

The department has not been able to clarify which fees are new or have changed, citing duty travel as one reason for not providing an interview.

"I'm still trying to do research and understand the logic of why they're doing it," said Thompson. "There doesn't seem to be any rationale for it right now."

According to Thompson, people in the Nahendeh constituency — including Fort Simpson, Wrigley, Fort Liard, Nahanni Butte, Trout Lake and Jean Marie River — weren't previously charged for doctor's notes.

He says the new fee puts "an extra burden on them."

Jack Bourassa, regional executive vice president for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said employees shouldn't require doctor's notes at all — an opinion shared by many doctors. 

If they do, Bourassa believes the employer should pay for it and any other medical service required by the employer.

The full list of charges can be found on the NTHSSA website.

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