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: June 27, 2019

Bruce MacDonald’s experience with BC’s healthcare system

Bruce MacDonald was told it would be a two- to three-year wait for a surgery he needed to alleviate sinus pain he described as ‘torture’. Instead of waiting, Bruce went to a private clinic to give him his quality of life back. Stories like these are precisely why the CCF is supporting the Cambie Surgery Centre and the patient plaintiffs in this case. The BC government wants to effectively shut down clinics like the one that helped Bruce return to a normal life. Canadians have a right to seek out care when the public system fails them and leaves them waiting without timely care.

Read more and see a video on Bruce’s story here.

Sign-up for regular updates about this case at YourHealthCantWait.ca.

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.

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 healthcare 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

Get more content like this!

Subscribe to Freedom Updates and get regular updates on our work and important constitutional issues in Canada.