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Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones says the government is investigating a walk-in clinic in Ottawa that is reportedly charging patients $400 a year for access.

Several local media reports say the South Keys Health Center is set to soon open, with the membership fee on top of billings for individual services from the clinic's nurse practitioners.

While it would be illegal to charge such a fee for access to doctors or other services covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, nurse practitioners don't fall under the same banner.

The clinic director has defended it in interviews by saying he is operating within the law and filling a desperate need in the community for primary care.

Liberal health critic Adil Shamji says even if the letter of the law is not being violated in this case, the spirit of comprehensive, universal and accessible health care is.

Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser says the government should ban subscription fees for any primary care, but also make more use of nurse practitioners within the publicly funded health system.

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