B.C.’s Supreme Court will take on the growing concerns of Canadian health care practitioners and patients in a trial beginning September 8 of this year. Dr. Brian Day, a former president of the Canadian Medical Association who currently performs private surgery at Cambie Surgery Centre (which he founded) will challenge existing laws saying doctors cannot bill patients for services covered under public health services. According to Dr. Day, those laws are unconstitutional.
“Only Canada has laws that say a citizen is not allowed to spend their own money on their own health,” Dr. Day said. “Throughout history, there have been many government laws that are violations of your rights, and this is one of those laws.” Day plans to argue that, by forcing patients to sit on waiting lists for appointments and treatments, the government is violating section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which promise “…everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person.”
Unbeknownst to many Canadians, a nearly identical case went to trial–and won–in Quebec in 2005.
Dr. Day has his critics; the B.C. Health Coalition, along with health care unions, are preparing for battle in September. But Canada’s health system needs an overhaul, especially after last month’s sobering report in which Canada ranked 10th out of 11 Commonwealth countries for health care. Most of the countries compared, such as Switzerland, Germany and Australia, already operate successful two-tiered medical systems. The U.K., in 1st place with a two-tier system, established a health regulation mandating all patients with suspected cancer wait no longer than two weeks to see a specialist. This was mandated in 1997; meanwhile, Canadians regularly wait longer than 6 months for a diagnostic MRI in the public system.