The case, Cambie Surgeries Corporation v British Columbia (Attorney General), was brought by a group of private BC surgical centres and by patients who have suffered the consequences of lengthy medical wait times in the government system. Unfortunately for these patients, the three judge panel at the BC Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. On September 29, the plaintiffs filed an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“This case raises issues of national importance, and the BC Court of Appeal’s reasoning on the principles of fundamental justice in this case is inconsistent with the rights guarantees of the Charter,” said CCF Executive Director, Joanna Baron. “This case deserves a final determination by Canada’s highest court, and we at the Canadian Constitution Foundation fully support the patients and clinics in their fight for choice in accessing healthcare.”
In the BC Court of Appeal decision, the majority held that the BC law that prevents patients from accessing medical treatment outside the government monopoly system does deprive some patients of their rights to life and security of person. However, the majority found that the prohibitions are in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
“We know that long wait times for patients worsen medical outcomes, and that patients even die on these government wait lists. We disagree that this bizarre form of social cruelty that traps patients in a dysfunctional government monopoly can be justified by the principles of fundamental justice, and we are optimistic that this error in law will be corrected by the Supreme Court” concluded Baron.
The filing of an application for a leave to appeal to the Supreme Court does not guarantee that the Supreme Court will hear the case. The Canadian Constitution Foundation will issue an additional news release once a decision regarding leave has been issued by the Court.
The CCF supports the plaintiffs in the Cambie litigation, but is not itself a party to the litigation. More information on the case is available at YourHealthCantWait.ca.