Home Cases Defending patient rights and healthcare choice: Cambie v. MSCB et al.

Defending patient rights and healthcare choice: Cambie v. MSCB et al.

By | on Sep 06 2016

From Cases, Ongoing Cases

Photo Courtesy of Orbis under CC 2.0

Latest update: November 16, 2018

BC goes to court to hide costs of landmark healthcare trial from the public

BC really doesn’t want you to know how much the government has spent since 2009 fighting against patients suffering on waitlists who want their Charter right to timely treatment. Since 2009, the BC Government has been litigating against patient plaintiffs who have suffered as a result of rationed healthcare and who have benefited from services offered by private clinics, like the Cambie Surgery Centre, which have operated in BC for more than two decades.

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Case summary:

76% of Canadians agree that the Charter should allow patients who have been on provincial healthcare wait lists longer than the maximum recommended waiting period for their condition to pay for private treatment according to recent Canada-wide polling. See our Constitution Day 2018 webpage for more.

Cambie Surgeries Corporation et al v. Medical Services Commission et al. is a constitutional challenge taking place in British Columbia to bring choice and compassion to Canada’s health care system. The goal is to stop the suffering and empower Canadians to care for their own health, as should be their right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ guarantee of security of the person.

Three of the plaintiffs in this case are teenagers whose young lives have already been negatively shaped by British Columbia’s ban on accessing private care outside the government system. They include Walid Khalfallah, an 18-year-old with progressive spine deformity who was paralyzed after a 27-month wait for care; and 18-year-old Chris Chiavatti, who suffered permanent damage while waiting for treatment of his knee injury. Another plaintiff, 37-year-old Mandy Martens, saw her cancer spread while she languished on a waitlist. Two other British Columbians were originally part of the case, but they died waiting for it to go to trial.

In the 2005 Chaoulli case, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the rights of Quebec residents were violated by laws that forced citizens to wait, while denying them the right to access care outside of the government system. All Canadians should have the same protection. But because the Chaoulli case was decided based on the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, its effects have been confined to that province.

If the plaintiffs in this case succeed, patients in British Columbia will be free to buy private health insurance and to pay for treatment for all health services (covered by the province or not) with the doctor of their choice. By the same token, private clinics will be free to accept non-government funding for all the health services they offer.

 

  • CCF Launch: November 2011
  • Legal Jurisdiction: British Columbia
  • Next Key date: Trial ongoing

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