Appeal of decision about government spending on patient choice case to be heard today

Appeal of decision about government spending on patient choice case to be heard today

VANCOUVER–Today the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) will be making oral arguments at the BC Court of Appeal in favour of disclosing the government’s cost of over 10 years of litigation against patients’ Charter right to access timely healthcare.

“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,” said CCF Executive Director Joanna Baron. “We know the government must have spent a fortune on this litigation, just based on the length of time and the number of experts called. The public deserves to know how much the province of British Columbia has spent fighting their right to timely access to healthcare. That’s what today’s appeal is about.”

In August of 2017, the CCF filed a request under BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), asking the BC government to come clean on just how much taxpayer money it has spent so far fighting to deny patients their right to timely healthcare treatment. The CCF is seeking the global number of the total costs of the litigation since 2009. They are not requesting a breakdown of the costs.

On August 15, 2018, the adjudicator from the BC Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) ordered that the court costs be made public. The BC government appealed, claiming, among other things, that if the true financial cost of the trial were known by the public, it could be used to embarrass the government. In 2019, the BC Supreme Court held that the cost of the case was subject to privilege. Today’s hearing is an appeal of that decision.

“While the BC government may be ‘embarrassed’ by how much they have spent fighting against Canadian’s Charter right to access to timely healthcare, this is all the more reason to make this information public. The BC government has no real financial constraints on its use of taxpayer money, but freedom of information legislation requires that they disclose how they spend it. We look forward to making our case today in favour of transparency for taxpayers and patients today at the Court of Appeal,” concluded Baron.

The original version of this release can be read here.