VANCOUVER, BC: The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) today announced that it is assisting Dr. Brian Day defend the Charter rights of medical patients before the British Columbia Supreme Court (BCSC).
Dr. Brian Day is the President and CEO of Cambie Surgeries Corporation, which operates the Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver, BC. The Cambie Surgery Centre is one of the most technologically advanced surgical facilities in Canada. There are at least 50 other independent facilities in BC.
Cambie Surgeries Corporation has commenced an action in the BCSC seeking a declaration that the B.C. Medicare Protection Act violates sections 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The defendants include the Medical Services Commission (MSC), which is the provincial body charged with administering the Medicare Protection Act as it relates to insured services, the BC Minister of Health, and the Attorney General of BC.
Dr. Day and the CCF believe that section 7 and the right to life, liberty, and security of the person are a constitutional guarantee of access to medical care, and include both a right to access to medical care of one’s choice, and a right to access to adequate and timely medical care.
However, the Medicare Protection Act restricts the opportunity for patients to have access to the medical care of their choice because by prohibiting the charging of any “facility fees”, patients are prevented or restricted from accessing independent facilities such as the Cambie Surgery Centre for their medical care.
Dr. Day and the CCF also believe that section 15 entitles patients seeking medical care to equal protection and equal benefit of the law and government action and programs relating to health care, without discrimination.
However, patients who are not government beneficiaries under such programs as Workers’ Compensation, are directly or indirectly impeded from accessing health care at the Cambie Surgery Centre.
In the 2005 Chaoulli decision, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) held that access to a wait list is not access to healthcare. Chaoulli makes it unlawful for the province of Quebec to force patients to remain on wait lists by preventing them from purchasing private health insurance. Dr. Day is asking the BC court to apply the reasoning accepted by the SCC in Chaoulli and find that BC residents suffering on wait lists have the same legal protection as Quebecers.
Waiting for necessary medical treatment imposes a significant financial, emotional, and physical health burden on individual Canadians and their families. By supporting Dr. Day, the CCF hopes to eliminate costly wait-lists, increase access to innovative technologies, and permit greater choice for the delivery of healthcare services. Canada is the only developed country in the world that denies its citizens that choice.
CCF Executive Director and lawyer Chris Schafer said, “The CCF envisions a Canada where all patients can acquire the healthcare services they need in a timely and fair fashion”. Schafer added, “BC law forces patients to suffer and languish while waiting for medical treatment. This is a violation of their Charter rights”.