Quebec ultrasound spat boosts business at Ottawa clinics

A feud between Quebec and its radiologists has Ottawa’s ultrasound clinics raking in extra business.

By Dylan C. Robertson

Last July, Quebec pledged to cover private imaging clinics in its public insurance scheme. But it never finished negotiating how much it would pay, before the policy came into place December 29.

With no idea how much the province would be paying, private radiology clinics in Gatineau and across Quebec closed their doors.

George Sartzetakis said he’s seen an uptick in Quebec patients at Kent Street Imaging, seeking both X-rays and ultrasounds.

“Especially last week and the week before that, we had quite a few come in,” he said.

Sartzetakis said the increased business isn’t delaying his local patients. “We’re having no issues in that respect.”

A clinic on Bank St. reported a similar phenomenon this month, as did the University of Ottawa's Montfort Hospital. Officials at both the Ottawa Hospital and Queensway Carleton Hospital radiology departments did not respond to a request for comment.

Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette told reporters the province’s ultrasound clinics were “taking patients hostage,” alleging they were closing to sway the negotiations. A patient-advocacy group is threatening a class-action lawsuit.

But in Gatineau, the owner of Ecosphère Image temporarily closed his business because he couldn’t figure out how to run his for-profit business. He said he wasn’t happy to cancel 50 ultrasound appointments.

"I find that very stupid of the minister to announce something without having any details to announce to the private clinics," Martin Lacasse told CBC. "We are entrepreneurs, and we have to know how much we are going to receive."

This article originally appeared in Metro News.