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Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak, right, and Christine Elliott speak to reporters at Queen's Park in Toronto on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013.

FRANK GUNN/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Ontario's Progressive Conservatives want the private sector to play a bigger role in the health care system, providing services from MRIs to home care. Leader Tim Hudak said Thursday such measures would save money and offer patients a broader range of choices in the type of care they receive.

"A little bit of choice and productive competition make the world go around," he said. "That means patients will be seen as human beings who happen to be ill as opposed to OHIP numbers."

Under the Tory plan, the latest in a series of policy papers, people requiring home care would have the option of using services provided through the Ministry of Health, or taking the province's money to hire a private provider instead. Such a system, Mr. Hudak said, would allow people to choose services that meet their needs better.

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The province would also put some clinical services, such as cataract surgeries and dialysis treatments, out to tender in hopes that the competition would drive down costs.

Liberal Health Minister Deb Matthews immediately attacked Mr. Hudak's plan, saying it "posed a risk" to the principle of universal health care.

"Tim Hudak is not prepared to defend our public medicare system," she said in a statement.

Tory health critic Christine Elliott, however, said private care arrangements would still be overseen by new "health hubs" run by the ministry, which would ensure quality standards are upheld.

And much of the Tory plan found common ground with the Liberals, including a greater focus on preventative medicine and better streamlining of services.

The minority Liberals must gain the support of at least one opposition party to pass a budget.

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