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The Legal Attack on Public Health Care

We risk losing our public health care system in 2016.

Right now, there's a legal challenge in motion that could erase Canadian Medicare as we know it – resulting in a two-tier, US-style health care system.

Dr. Brian Day, owner of Vancouver's for-profit Cambie Surgery Centre and the leading proponent of privatized health care, launched a constitutional challenge in 2009 that is going to court in September 2016. This challenge aims to break Medicare in Canada by striking down provincial health legislation that limits the for-profit delivery of medically necessary services, claiming that these rules violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Parties in the case, including the BC government, are calling this the most significant constitutional challenge in Canadian history. Although this case is being heard in British Columbia, experts agree that the case will be appealed and end up in the Supreme Court of Canada – that's why it's important to everyone in Canada.

If Dr. Day wins, he'll open the floodgates to a US-style system that relies on private insurance, and allows providers to set any price on care that the market will allow.

For Canadian families, this means that they will have to purchase private health care insurance for essential and emergency care like they do in the United States – if they can afford it.

In the US, private health insurance through employers costs $16,000 for an average family of four, with employees paying over $4,000 for family insurance, with a $2,000 deductible.

In Canada, the actual cost of our public system insuring a family of four is half of that - $8,000, paid through our taxes. The administration of our Medicare system is just 1.3% of health care costs – while in the US, administration eats up 31% of health care spending. And costs in the US are out of control, with reports of just a single stitch costing $500!

Businesses that set up shop in Canada won't have to bear these expensive costs for employee health insurance, and they'll have healthier workers.

Clearly, there's a lot at stake. That's why the BC Health Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare are interveners in this case.

This means that we are able to fight for Medicare in court by participating directly in the case to make sure public health care is protected. As interveners, we are able to represent the majority of Canadians and health professionals who believe in the value of our Medicare system.

The BC Supreme Court level is the pro-Medicare side's chance to influence the outcome of this case. Our intervener group has secured a strong legal team including leading constitutional and health litigators Steven Shrybman and Joe Arvay. All advise that our participation at the BC Supreme Court level is essential because the evidence and facts provided at the trial stage in B.C. will be the record upon which a Supreme Court of Canada decision will be made.

We came perilously close to losing our public health care system with a similar case in Quebec in 2005 because there wasn't enough evidence at the provincial level to support Medicare – we can't afford to make that mistake in BC.

The direction we have to go is clear. Getting there is a challenge. We need to make sure all Canadians know about this critical challenge and what they can do to support our public health care system.

To that end, we will be working on a campaign to bring attention to the case between now and the trial date in September so that everyone in Canada knows what's at stake. Although judges will decide the case, we know that the last court case about our health care system was heavily influenced by public opinion.

So help make it loud and clear!

Campaign Updates & News

Health Care Advocates Welcome Federal Intervention in Cambie Case

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Health Care Advocates Welcome Federal Intervention in Cambie Case VANCOUVER (April 13) – Dr. Brian Day’s campaign to dismantle Canadian public health care was dealt a significant blow today as counsel for the Attorney General of Canada presented their intention to intervene in Cambie Surgical Centre et al. v. Medical Services Commission et al (Cambie Case) in BC Supreme Court.…Read More

Private clinics court challenge threatens health care for all Canadians: report

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (.pdf version) OTTAWA—As early as November 2015, the British Columbia Supreme Court will begin hearing a challenge to the provincial Medicare Protection Act (MPA) that, if successful, will impact all Canadians in every province and territory, says a report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).…Read More

Charlottetown activist fears uprooting of health care

Jim Day | The Guardian  Mary Boyd is keeping a keen eye on a constitutional challenge of British Columbia’s ban on private health care. She fears if the challenge, launched by former Canadian Medical Association president Dr. Brian Day, is successful, the ramifications will be felt across Canada, including P.E.I.…Read More

Health coalition wants BC to deal with overcharging by private clinics

Shannen Brennan | News 1130  Private clinic’s overcharging patients for medical services need to be held accountable according to the BC Health Coalition. The group says the province must act immediately to prevent unlawful billing practices. Co-chair of the coalition Edith MacHattie says the government needs to impose tough penalties on clinics that are abusing the health care system.…Read More

BC Government faces stark choice on health care

VANCOUVER (.pdf) - The BC Government is about to make a decision that will send a clear message to patients about whether or not they are protected by public health care law. The province is currently negotiating a settlement with Cambie Surgery Corporation owner Dr. Brian Day. The outcome of that negotiation will determine the future of Medicare in BC.…Read More

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