Your Health Still Can't Wait

In the 2005 Supreme Court case known as Chaoulli v. Quebec, the court found that the Quebec government could not block patients in the province from paying for surgeries when suffering on excessively long waiting lists. To do so—according to the court, would violate their rights.

Do Canadians have equal rights? One would assume so, but a technicality in this seminal decision prevented it from definitively recognizing that right in the rest of Canada. As a result, most Canadians are stuck on waiting lists even as provincial healthcare monopolies become less and less capable of delivering timely care.

This is is why the Canadian Constitution Foundation supported Dr. Brian Day and the Cambie Surgery Centre in our Healthcare Freedom case. We wanted courts to recognize that patients suffering on waiting lists in BC had the same rights as those in Quebec. Unfortunately, in the 2022 decision Cambie Surgeries v British Columbia, we lost at the B.C. Court of Appeal. And in April 2023, the Supreme Court of Canada refused leave in this case and left the question of whether Canadians have equal rights unanswered.

The Supreme Court refused to clarify perhaps one of the most important rights questions of the century, leaving the law in an awkward and ambiguous position.

Despite this discouraging outcome, we remain committed to fighting for this cause. The Canadian Constitution Foundation will not give up on this public interest issue, because we still believe all Canadians—not just Quebeckers—have a right to seek out healthcare when left suffering on waiting lists.

Now, the BC government is demanding that the CCF and its partners pay $1.7 million dollars to cover some of the legal bills they racked up fighting against Canadians’ rights. To put that amount into perspective, the Canadian Constitution Foundation spent less than $2.1 million on all of our work (including ALL of our cases, special projects and events) in the last fiscal year.

"If the BC government gets their way, it will discourage all civil society groups from standing up for your rights."

But we won’t be giving in.

We’re going to fight this demand and ask the court to throw out this ridiculous demand.

No one forced the government to spend millions of taxpayer dollars fighting against healthcare choice.
No one forced the government to spend even more money to hide those costs.
No one forced the government to fight against the recognition of a basic right to seek out healthcare.

But the BC government still wants to punish the CCF and its supporters for engaging in obviously public interest litigation. If the BC government gets their way, it will discourage all civil society groups from standing up for your rights and chill attempts to challenge government overreach through all types of Charter litigation.

Help us fight against this costs claim so we can get back to fighting for patient rights

With your help we can stop this attack on public interest litigation and get back to fighting for your rights.

We won’t be giving up on this important cause and are looking at other laws in Canada that violate the right to security of the person.

It’s simply unjust to deny Canadians the basic right to seek out healthcare outside the public monopoly when so many Canadians are forced to languish on waiting lists.

Fighting for more choice will not “Americanize” healthcare as opponents often say. Provinces would still have a wide window to design better healthcare policies. In fact, every other developed country on earth allows their citizens to access care privately in ways prohibited in Canada while maintaining a public healthcare system. And almost all of those countries perform better than Canada in comparative studies that rank the quality and cost of public healthcare. Canada can do better.