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

Environment Canada has issued a snow warning for the Kootenays on Friday. File photo
Environment Canada issues snow warning for Friday

Two-to-10 centimetres is expected to fall

Brody Peterson told The Gazette he intends to dispute tickets issued by Grand Forks RCMP at his backyard “house warming” Saturday, Oct. 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Homeowner intends to dispute COVID tickets after backyard party near Grand Forks

Brody Peterson said bands that played at his home shut down before the 11 o’clock cut off

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
Trail Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: Opioid crisis

Seventh in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

Touchstones Museum has opened up Nelson’s Cold War bunker to the public. The unique exhibit includes artifacts from the 1950s and 60s. Photo: Tyler Harper
Take cover! Cold War bunker opens to public in Nelson

The shelter was built in 1964 in case of nuclear fallout

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

Jack Vellutini, 100, is still making sweet music. Photo: Submitted
Music stirs memories as Trail serenader nears 101st birthday

Jack Vellutini gave his brass instruments to Trail up-and-comers so the legacy of music can live on

BC ELECTION
B.C. political leaders reflect on rural health care as election looms

NDP leader John Horgan, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson talk health care priorities in the Kootenays

Most Read