Health care on trial
Ottawa – Today, Dr. Brian Day’s lawsuit against public health care went to trial before the Supreme Court of B.C. Day claims restricting private, for-profit care violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He is co-owner of Vancouver’s Cambie Surgery Centre and the Specialist Referral Clinic, both of which have violated B.C.’s Medicare Protection Act by engaging in extra or double billing of its fees.
“What’s on trial is equitable health care,” said Adrienne Silnicki, Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) national coordinator. “Day’s lawsuit is an affront to Canada’ public health care system where people are treated based on their needs – not their ability to pay. There could be very real consequences to his case, extending beyond B.C.’s borders and affecting our access to quality universal health care.”
As the debate of public or private health care grows, so too does the evidence. Research in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia confirm that increased use of private for profit care can lead to longer wait times and less resources in the public system – the opposite of what Day claims. Evidence also indicates health outcomes are better in public facilities. A study comparing dialysis centres in the United States found death rates were 8 per cent higher for patients of for-profit centres than those in non-profit centre. The same study estimated there would be 2,200 more deaths per year if Canada’s hospitals were converted to for-profit facilities.
“In no way will for-profit, private health care benefit the majority of Canadians,” said Silnicki. “Improvements are necessary to help our current system meet the needs of today’s population. Canadians need community-based primary health care, a national public drug plan and enhanced health promotion and disease prevention – not profit-driven private care.”
The defendants in the case are the B.C. Minister of Health, the attorney general and B.C.’s Medical Services Commission. Official intervenors include the federal government, B.C. Health Coalition, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, B.C. Anesthesiologists Society, B.C. Nurses Union, as well as patients and physicians. The trial is expected to last six months.
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