Private health care in Canada: Supreme Court case

Vancouver –

A doctor who filed a lawsuit over a patient’s right to pay private medical bills said the Canadian Supreme Court’s decision not to grant appeals indicates that long waiting times are “mandated into the health care system.” ” means.

Dr. Brian Day is CEO of Cambie Surgical Center and has spent more than a decade with several patients in court challenging British Columbia’s Medicare Protection Act, which prohibits additional claims and private insurance for medically necessary procedures. have spent

They argued that long wait times in B.C.’s publicly funded system amounted to a violation of the patient’s right to life, liberty and safety under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Others applauded the decision, and advocacy groups involved in the case said it relaxed the basic principles of access to health care, regardless of someone’s ability to pay.

The BC Supreme Court dismissed the constitutional challenge three years ago, and the provincial court of appeals upheld the decision last year. On Thursday, Canada’s Supreme Court said it would not appeal.

Day said in a statement that Canada needs to align its system with better publicly funded systems elsewhere in the world and provide complementary health care available through legitimate private insurance. .

“Patients in our case suffered consequences such as permanent paralysis and death while awaiting treatment and justice as a result of the Supreme Court’s failure to even consider the rights of Canadians on waitlists. Canadians, such as the plaintiffs, denied access to both,” he said.

“Medically unacceptable waiting times are mandatorily embedded, and it is clear that the publicly funded healthcare system reflects government policy. Courts support this approach.”

Katie Arnup, executive director of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, said she was relieved the legal battle was over.

She said what Day and others want is to “strike to the heart of Canada’s publicly funded health care infrastructure,” particularly when it comes to access to care based on need rather than ability to pay. said that

“From the beginning, it was important for us to stick to that principle, and I think in the end it won out.”

Judge John Steves said in the original BC Supreme Court ruling that waiting too long for treatment could increase risk for some patients, but the provision was based on need for access to medical care. He stated that it was justified by the overall purpose of supporting the system in question.

The Supreme Court of Canada has not disclosed why it chose not to hear the case. In 2022, only 7% of cases that filed appeals were granted appeals.

Canadian Doctors for Medicare intervened in both previous court challenges.

Arnup said the battle to improve the health system is not over.

“This means that this one legal battle is over and that we can focus on innovation within the public system to improve access to care for all.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said at an unrelated press conference on Thursday that the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling would put an end to the issue.

“I just want to say that this is an exceptional win for BC Public Health, the people of BC, the Medicare Protection Act and our public health system,” he said.

“It lets us do what it takes to support public health and continue to provide better service under the public health system, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do. “

In an earlier statement, Dix said despite the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, states are working to reduce wait times, and that 99% of patients whose services were postponed during the pandemic have since said it was undergoing treatment.

According to a statement, BC currently ranks “#1 nationally for the percentage of patients meeting clinical criteria for cataract surgery and #2 for both hip and knee replacements.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 6, 2023.

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