Cambie Case 2018:

Cambie Surgeries Corporation et al v. Attorney General of B.C. et al

Overview

A court case in British Columbia seeks to overturn the ban on private for-profit medicine and bring U.S. style health care to Canada.

Brian Day,CEO of Cambie Surgeries Corporation is challenging the Medicare Protection Act of British Columbia under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; alleging that it denies the individual right to protect one’s body (Sections 7 & 15). Although the case was first brought by Brian Day in 2006, the trial began in 2016, after some procedural delays it resumes in court on April 9th, 2018. Whatever the outcome, it will end up in the Supreme Court and threaten the core values of our public health system. 

CHC is leading the campaign to inform Canadians about this important charter challenge.

The issue

Brian Day, founder and medical director of Vancouver’s Cambie Surgery Centre, was found guilty of illegally over charging patients almost half a million dollars in a 30 day period. Instead of accepting the ruling, he filed a charter challenge that will end likely end up in the supreme court and threatens the core values of Canada’s public health care system. 

Day and other privatization proponents claim provincial health legislation, and subsequently the Canada Health Act, violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by restricting private, for-profit health care.

This case is about profit: Profit for doctors, profit for private clinics and profit for the insurance companies.

At stake is the principle that all Canadians should receive health care based on what they need, not what they can pay. Allowing private, for-profit care to operate unchecked would erode the quality of health care in Canada.

A two-tier system would:

  • allow physicians in private clinics to “cherry pick” low risk, paying patients who can be treated quickly with straightforward medical interventions, while leaving serious, chronic or complex cases to the already strained public system;
  • worsen wait times for the majority of Canadians by removing physicians from the public health care system and giving preferential treatment to those who pay for care; and,
  • prioritize profits over people by allowing publicly-funded doctors to set their own fees in for-profit clinics and private insurers to make money off of publicly-covered care from wealthy citizens ready to pay for care.

Canada’s public health care system requires improvements to better meet the needs of today’s populations. Solutions can be found in accessible community-based primary health care, enhanced health promotion and disease prevention, a national public drug plan, a comprehensive senior’s care strategy, and collaborative care provider teams — not privatized U.S.-style for-profit care.

Defendants

The defendants are the B.C. Minister of Health, the attorney general and B.C.’s Medical Services Commission.

In 2012, the B.C. Ministry of Health released an audit report that determined extra billing occurred at Dr. Day’s Cambie Surgeries Corporation and the Specialist Referral Clinic (also in Vancouver). Extra billing is when a medical practitioner directly bills an insured patient for a medical service that is available in the public health plan. The audit also found instances of double billing where taxpayers are paying for services billed to the provincial plan, when patients were also billed directly. Such billing practices are prohibited by the province’s Medicare Protection Act (articles 14, 17, 18, 45) and the federal Canada Health Act (article 3).

Intervenors

The B.C. Health Coalition, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, the B.C. Anesthesiologists Society, and the federal government have intervenor status in the case and will participate directly in the litigation, as well as two individual patients supported by the B.C. Nurses Union and two B.C. physicians.

Timeline

The trial resumes on Monday, April 9th, 2018.

Although this case is being heard in British Columbia, experts agree the case is likely to be appealed and end up in the Supreme Court of Canada, making it relevant to everyone in Canada. Similar challenges to Medicare are developing in other jurisdictions, such as Quebec, Ontario and Alberta.

Take action

By applying significant public pressure, we can safeguard the values entrenched in provincial/territorial and federal health acts: safe, quality and equitable health care for all Canadians.

  • Sign the open letter calling on Brian Day to drop the case.
  • Click on “Tweet this” below to let your networks know you support Canada’s public health care system. The message will open in a new window allowing you to edit if you wish.
  • Share the image below by clicking on the social media icon next to it and show your support for public health care

Everyone deserves the health care they need, not just what they can afford.

Further reading

Backgrounder: Cambie Surgeries Corporation et al v. Attorney General of B.C. et al (CHC, 2018)

Q-and-A (CHC, 2018)

Trial updates (B.C. Health Coalition, ongoing)

Private Clinics and the Threat to Public Medicare in Canada (Ontario Health Coalition, June 2017) Click here for the Executive Summary

The Legal Attack on Public Health Care (B.C. Health Coalition, 2016)

Cambie Corp. Goes to Court (Colleen Fuller for Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2015)

Reducing surgical wait times – The case for public innovation and provincial leadership (Andrew Longhurst, Marcy Cohen and Dr. Margaret McGregor for CCPA, 2016)

Myth: A parallel private system would reduce waiting times in the public system (Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, 2005)

B.C. Ministry of Health Specialist Referral Clinic and Cambie Surgeries Corporation Audit Report (2012)

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