The B.C. Supreme Court has dismissed a years-long court challenge of public health-care rules in B.C. that claimed the province's health-care system denies patients the right to timely care.
The constitutional challenge launched by private health-care advocate Dr. Brian Day, the owner of the Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver, claimed that prolonged wait times for medical procedures violated two charter rights, including the right to life, liberty and security of the person.
Day argued patients have a constitutional right to pay for private care when wait times in the public system are too long.
Day opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 and launched court action against the B.C. government in 2009 over sections of the Medicare Protection Act. It prohibits doctors from billing the government for work they do in the public system while also earning money from private clinics as well as billing patients or their insurance companies.
Justice John J. Steeves dismissed both charter claims, noting that B.C.'s Medicare Protection Act is focused on medically necessary care, not ability to pay.
Lawyers for both the B.C. and federal governments have argued such a system would erode Canada's universal health-care system and negatively impact patients with complex chronic conditions and the elderly.
While the court ruled against Day, Steeves did find that surgical patients are not receiving care in a timely manner, and that these lengthy wait times for surgery result in prolonged pain and suffering for patients.
"Some of these patients will experience prolonging and exacerbation of pain and diminished functionality as well as increased risk of not gaining full benefit from surgery," Steeves wrote.
This is big. Access to health care is a vital public service, not to mention an important aspect of how we identify as Canadians. I wanted to highlight this because I think it is an important item that is worthy of discussion.