The Canadian Constitution Foundation is greatly dismayed by the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to refuse leave in Cambie Surgeries v. Attorney General.
“The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to refuse leave in the Cambie matter is a shocking dereliction of the Court’s duty to provide legal clarity across the country”, said Joanna Baron, Executive Director of the CCF. “The Court is to hear cases that raise legal issues of national importance, and given the growing crisis of wait times across Canada as well as the complex and contradictory state of the law, it is inexplicable and stunning that it elected not to hear this challenge. This morning, the Globe and Mail’s editorial board called the issue “literally one of life and death.”
In 2005, a majority of the Supreme Court of Canada in Chaoulli ruled that Quebec’s ban on private health insurance was unconstitutional. A majority ruled that the ban was “not constitutional where the public system fails to deliver reasonable services” and that “life, liberty and security of the person must prevail.”
“That Supreme Court decision, which was ultimately decided under the Quebec Charter, remains good law and allows Quebeckers the right to choose to take their health into their own hands by going outside a failing government system instead of suffering on lengthy waiting lists. It remains unclear why the same reasoning ought not to apply in the rest of Canada under the Charter’s guarantee of life, liberty and security of the person. It is lamentable that the Supreme Court declined to resolve these ambiguities, which directly affect every Canadian”, continued Baron.
In addition to the inequality between Quebec and the rest of Canada, there remains massive inequality between federal public servants, such as judges, who are entitled to federal health insurance and are able to be treated in private healthcare facilities like Cambie, and the rest of Canadians who are forced by government monopolies into dangerous and long waiting times.
The CCF is grateful for the courageous leadership of Dr. Brian Day, who has dedicated fourteen years of his life to the cause of improving the healthcare system for all Canadians, and is currently considering other avenues of litigation to continue his fight for patient choice.