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

A look back at Kelowna’s past

The 1956 Regatta Parade in Kelowna

Kelowna man’s child porn collection ‘traversed the spectrum of depravity,’ court hears

Terry Krock was caught in possession of between 7,000 and 12,000 child porn files

City of Kelowna moving temporary shelter off Recreation Avenue

Sheltering space moving to 890 Baillie Avenue, expected to be completed this week

Local mom developing an app to help community connect

The Village App will help those who need help to connect with others

BC Green Party looking for Central Okanagan candidates

The party only has two confirmed candidates: Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

COLUMN: COVID-19 statistics are the stories of people

This pandemic is ultimately about people, not just about numbers

EDITORIAL: Clearing the smoke

Wildfires have resulted in heavy smoke and poor air quality

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

COVID-19 exposure at Merritt pub

The exposure happened on Sept. 19 at the pub of the Coldwater Hotel

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

UPDATE: Person safely pulled from Vernon creek culvert

First responders from multiple agencies assist in getting individual out of the creek

Police watchdog investigating after man injured in Penticton RCMP cells

Man suffers serious injuries after being lodged into cells at the detachment

Four more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 31 active cases in isolation in the health region

Most Read