Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen will investigate whether anyone has received preferential treatment in obtaining an MRI in Manitoba, saying a person's medical condition should be the sole priority in the timing of obtaining a diagnostic test.

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Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen will investigate whether anyone has received preferential treatment in obtaining an MRI in Manitoba, saying a person's medical condition should be the sole priority in the timing of obtaining a diagnostic test.

Reacting to a Free Press exclusive report, Goertzen said he will ask Manitoba's auditor general Norm Ricard if he has evidence that something untoward occurred.

"I’ve never seen such evidence. I didn’t see any evidence reported in the media. And I continue to be greatly disturbed that individuals had their personal health information bandied about the media," Goertzen told reporters after question period Tuesday in the legislature.

In the auditor general's document obtained by the Free Press, Ricard flagged 92 cases between 2008 and 2016 as "instances of potential preferential treatment." The cases involved Winnipeg Regional Health Authority senior managers, former provincial health ministers, high-profile health donors, sports stars and others.

Of the 92, 59 were former and current Winnipeg Jets and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Goertzen said he's asked his department to review its policies with respect to speedy MRIs for professional athletes. He said he wants to know how other jurisdictions handle this issue.

The minister repeatedly apologized Tuesday for the document's leak and said he would also ask the provincial ombudsman's office to probe how it occurred. He said he wasn't aware of the confidential report until he read about in the media.

"I apologize on behalf of the Department of Health, and I will reach out and apologize to them (those named) personally," Goertzen said.

"I don’t think anyone, anyone should be phoned in an afternoon or evening and be asked about their personal health information. And I don’t care if they were a former health minister or they were someone who has worked in the system, or they were someone who’s never been involved in the health-care system. That is not how health information should be treated.

"I believe that everyone, regardless of the positions that they hold or have held, deserve to have their (private) health information protected."

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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