We are thrilled to report that the BC Supreme Court has sided with suffering patients and the doctors and private clinics who treat them by staying the coming into force of new financial penalties that the BC government recently introduced to put the clinics out of business. The proposed fines were threatening to shutter clinics that have been providing necessary healthcare in BC for more than 20 years even before their Charter challenge on behalf of their patients could be decided.
This is just an interim victory, but it keeps the clinics open while the full case can proceed. It will allow them to continue to provide the life-saving and life-improving treatments and surgeries that are the only option for many patients suffering on long and growing waitlists. The full constitutional case will continue to proceed and is expected to wrap up in the New Year, with a final decision on the merits to follow later in 2019.
In brief, the court held:
In summary, for the purposes of the Injunction Application, I have determined the following:
a) Taking into account the circumstances of this constitutional litigation and a preliminary assessment of the evidence, the Plaintiffs have established that injunctive relief is appropriate in this case. I make that determination based on a preliminary assessment of the evidence and finding that the Plaintiffs have established that there is a serious question to be tried in that:
i. Some patients will suffer serious physical and/or psychological harm while waiting for health services;
ii. Some physicians will not provide private-pay medically necessary health services after the MPA Amendments take effect;
iii. Some patients would have accessed private-pay medically necessary health services but for the MPA Amendments;
iv. Some patients will have to wait longer for those medically necessary health services that could have been available but for the MPA Amendments and impugned provisions;
v. A sufficient causal connection between increased waiting times for private-pay medically necessary health services and physical and/or psychological harm caused to some patients.
b) The Plaintiffs have established irreparable harm in the context of a constitutional case that has proceeded in a manner that is consistent with public interest litigation in that some patients, but for the prohibitions, could have obtained private-pay medically necessary health services much sooner at a private clinic (such as Cambie) and the subsequent delay in receiving treatment causes some patients to endure serious physical and psychological suffering. The nature of this constitutional case complicates the assessment of damages at the interlocutory stage.
c) The Plaintiffs have established that the balance of convenience tips in their favour. This is so despite the Court’s conclusion that the MPA Amendments are directed to the public good and serve a valid public purpose. The Plaintiffs have tilted the balance by establishing that restraint of the enforcement provisions will also serve the public interest in that private-pay medically necessary health services will be accessible [throughout the course of the case].
The decision can be downloaded and viewed here.
The original release with full contact information is available here.