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: January 22, 2020

New report highlights Canada’s wait times and our bizarre government monopoly on healthcare

Happy New Year! The fight for Canadian governments to recognize the right of all Canadians to seek out healthcare continues into the new decade. The case’s final closing arguments will be made the week of February 24th in Vancouver, following which we expect up to a year for a judgment to be rendered by the court.

Today we’d like to share with you a new report released yesterday by the Fraser Institute called Understanding Universal Health Care Reform Options: Private Insurance. In this report, the researchers found that among 17 high-income countries with public healthcare, only Canada has laws prohibiting private health insurance for medically necessary treatment. The report also highlights that among those countries, Canada has the longest waiting lists for medically necessary treatment.

Canada’s lackluster health outcomes have been reported in reports we have shared to our supporters previously (e.g. Commonwealth Fund, 2017). This is precisely why the CCF has taken up this fight for patient rights. It’s simply absurd that Canada—and Canada alone—prevents its citizens from fully exercising their fundamental right to seek out healthcare. Please consider supporting this case. We fully expect this case to make its way to the Supreme Court of Canada, so any donations made now will still help us pay the legal fees in the subsequent stages of this important project for healthcare choice and freedom.

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

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