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news release May 14, 2019



Marie-Claude Prémont provides expert evidence on the dangers of dismantling public health care legislation

Vancouver—For the first time since the Charter Challenge against B.C.’s medicare laws started in 2016, witnesses will be taking the stand on behalf of the BC Health Coalition, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, two independent doctors, and two patients (the Coalition Intervenors).

Yesterday, expert witness Marie-Claude Prémont, a well-respected Professor of Law at the École Nationale d'Administration Publique, presented evidence on the crucial role that the BC Medicare Protection Act plays in preserving universal public health care. Prof. Premont also testified on the effects of the Quebec-based Chaoulli case on public health care services in that province.

“What is striking from Premont’s testimony is how vitally important the three parts of health care legislation that Day wants to strike down are to our universal system, which ensures that care is based on need and not the ability to pay,” explains Adrienne Yeung, Co-Chair of the BC Health Coalition.

“In Quebec, the prohibition against private duplicative insurance was struck down, but only because the prohibitions against extra-billing and dual practice were in place,“ states Yeung. “Brian Day wants to remove all these protections, which will lead to US-style, private-insurance focused health care.”

The constitutional challenge was launched by Brian Day, CEO of the private, for-profit Cambie Surgery Corporation. Day is seeking changes to Canada’s health care system that would allow doctors to charge patients unlimited amounts for all procedures and services - from routine check-ups to hip surgeries. These changes would create an American-style system with parallel private care and insurance and enable  private insurance companies to deny patients health care coverage for basic services like visits to the emergency room or cancer treatment.

This case is the broadest legal challenge to universal public health care in Canadian history. If the lawsuit is successful, research shows the new system would mean many Canadians would not be able to afford health care and wait lists for treatment would grow as resources are diverted out of the public system

The second Coalition Intervenor witness, Professor David U. Himmelstein, MD will take the stand on June 21 to provide expert evidence on the differences between American private health care and Canadian public health care.

The BC Health Coalition (BCHC) is a democratic, inclusive, and consensus-based community of individuals and organizations that advocate for evidence-based improvements to the public health care system.