Private Vancouver clinic loses constitutional challenge of public health-care rules

Private Vancouver clinic loses constitutional challenge of public health-care rules

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.

The filing targeted provisions that ban doctors from billing the provincial government for medical work done in the public system if they are also earning more money through private clinics. 

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.

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,” wrote Steeves.

Day has not commented on the decision but has said in the past he anticipated an appeal.

At a news conference Thursday, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province is delighted with the decision.

 “The ruling emphasizes the strength and the importance of public heath care which is a cornerstone of our identity in British Columbia,” he said.

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