Dr. Brian Day, Medical Director of the Cambie Surgery Centre, sits for a photograph at his office in Vancouver on Aug. 31, 2016. A lawsuit that begins today in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver has the potential to fundamentally change the way Canadians access health care. Day, who operates a private surgical centre in Vancouver, is challenging B.C.’s ban on Canadians buying private insurance for medically necessary services already covered by medicare. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

B.C. Supreme Court rules against private healthcare centre, sides with province

Case was between Cambie Surgery Centre and the province

The B.C. Supreme Court has ruled against legalizing private health care in a landmark ruling released Thursday (Sept. 10).

After a trial between the province and the Cambie Surgical Corporation that spanned nearly four years, Justice John Steeves ruled against founder Dr. Brian Day’s assertion that patients should be able to pay to access private surgery and tests sooner if they deem the public system wait times to be too long.

The 880-page decision did note that too-long wait times can harm patients with deteriorating conditions.

“Specifically, 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.

Day, an orthopedic surgeon, has hinged his decade-long legal battle on arguments around patients having a right to pay for services if wait times in the public system are too long. He operates the Specialist Referral Clinic, which refers patients to the Cambie Surgery Centre, a multi-specialty surgical and diagnostic facility, containing six operating rooms, recovery beds and overnight stay rooms. The centre is considered to operate at standards equivalent to a major public hospital in B.C.

He had maintained that four plaintiff patients have been deprived of life, liberty and security under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms after suffering harms from waiting for surgery in the public system before they sought care at his clinic.

The plaintiffs in the case did not claim that a two-tier system would shorten wait times in the public system. The plaintiffs instead used sections seven and 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to assert that B.C. cannot maintain a monopoly over medical services if it cannot guarantee timely care.

Day first opened the clinic in 1996, stating that his motivation was not profit but rather to provide surgeons and patients with more operating hours.

However, the facility has been operating since 2003 in violation of the provincial Medicare Protection Act.

In 2018, the province announced it would start to fine doctors $10,000 for a first offence if the charged patients for procedures and services that were available under the public system. However, Day received an injunction from the B.C. Supreme Court to pause fines until his case was dealt with.

Shortly after the ruling came down, Health Minister Adrian Dix said he was “extremely pleased” with the judgement.

“It’s fair to say… that this ruling emphasized the strength and importance of public healthcare as a cornerstone of our identity in British Columbia,” he said.

“Access to necessary medical care is based on need and not on an individual’s ability to pay.”

Dix said the province would review the decision before taking action, saying they don’t have a date set out to begin enforcing the Medicare Protection Act.

He did acknowledge that there is a role for private clinics in the province’s duty to provide health care, but noted those centres are contracted exclusively for day surgeries.

Black Press Media has reached out to the Cambie Surgery Centre for comment.

READ MORE: B.C. health care battle in judge’s hands but expected to land in Canada’s top court

More to come.

– with files from The Canadian Press


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BC Supreme CourtHealthcare

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

Anne Marie Sam seeks NDP nomination for Nechako Lakes riding

She also ran in 2017 but was defeated by BC Liberal John Rustad

Reserve a gym spot online with the Houston Leisure Facility

The online system is another step to make things easy during the pandemic

Bulk water, sewage project gets council’s approval

Facility to service large-scale users

B.C. reports 122 new COVID-19 cases as health officials urge smaller social circles

Health officials urge against shaming and blaming patients

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Thousands of child care spaces coming to 35 B.C. communities

Province announces milestone in Childcare BC plan

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read