Appeal hearing today! CCF in court for disclosure of what BC has spent fighting against healthcare choice

The Government of British Columbia really doesn’t want you to know how much the government has spent since 2009 fighting against patients suffering on waiting lists who want their Charter right to timely treatment. And lawyers representing the CCF were in the Court of Appeal for British Columbia today for the first hearing at this level of court to try and get a single, combined dollar figure. The CCF began this quest for a spending figure in 2017 by making a freedom of information request with the BC government through the standard administrative process. The government’s lawyers have acknowledged that they know the number, but they have so far refused to provide it.

We believe British Columbians should know how much money their government has spent paying for lawyers to use delay tactic after delay tactic in the hopes of exhausting the patient plaintiffs in the landmark Healthcare Freedom case. And we believe this remains as important as ever as we eagerly await for the decision for this same case —expected to be released this summer.

Ian Mulgrew: B.C.’s surgical plan gets a raspberry

“To increase surgery capacities, we will … contract with private surgical clinics that agree to follow the Canada Health Act,” says BC Health Minister Adrian Dix.

It’s hard to believe BC’s Health Minister, Adrian Dix, is part of the same government fighting Dr. Brian Day and our patient plaintiffs in court. The minister made these comments in addressing the issue of the ever increasing backlogs to surgery wait lists due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As our supporters know, our provincial government healthcare systems are not equipped to handle the demand of patients normally, let alone during a global health crisis. This is why Canadians should have the right to access private alternatives.

Read more in Ian Mulgrew’s latest article.

Gwyn Morgan: “After this crisis is behind us, we must fix our dangerous health-care system”

The unexpected public health crisis brought on by COVID-19, is quite fairly dominating the news cycle of the world at the moment. What does this mean for us fighting for more freedom and better outcomes in Canadian healthcare? The Nobel-prize winning economist Milton Friedman once said: “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.” The Canadian Constitution Foundation’s team was reminded of this quote in reading a recent opinion piece in the Financial Post by Gwyn Morgan on our healthcare systems’ response to this crisis. Canadians should always be fighting to do better, and we should be keeping this in mind even in times of crisis.

We depend on the generous support of Canadians to keep the fight for patient rights going. Please consider donating today. The initial trial in BC has ended, but we expect an appeal in BC regardless of the court’s decision and any money given now will help us pay for future legal fees.

 

Healthcare freedom trial finally wraps up in BC

The marathon trial for healthcare freedom and patient choice in the Supreme Court of British Columbia has finally ended. After years of delays, caused in large part by the government’s lawyers, the patient plaintiffs and the Cambie Surgery Centre had their case heard in court. At no point did the opposing government lawyers introduced any hard evidence or data to show that private clinics operating in BC for decades have caused harm to the province’s public healthcare system. We expect a decision that will recognize the Charter right of Canadians to seek private healthcare when they’re left suffering on a waiting list.

Read more in Ian Mulgrew’s latest here.

As mentioned before, we fully expect this case to make its way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Any donations made now will help us on our way to get the rights of all Canadian patients recognized in all of Canada and by all levels of government.

New report highlights Canada’s wait times and our bizarre government monopoly on healthcare

Happy New Year! The fight for Canadian governments to recognize the right of all Canadians to seek out healthcare continues into the new decade. The case’s final closing arguments will be made the week of February 24th in Vancouver, following which we expect up to a year for a judgment to be rendered by the court.

Today we’d like to share with you a new report released yesterday by the Fraser Institute called Understanding Universal Health Care Reform Options: Private Insurance. In this report, the researchers found that among 17 high-income countries with public healthcare, only Canada has laws prohibiting private health insurance for medically necessary treatment. The report also highlights that among those countries, Canada has the longest waiting lists for medically necessary treatment.

Canada’s lackluster health outcomes have been reported in reports we have shared to our supporters previously (e.g. Commonwealth Fund, 2017). This is precisely why the CCF has taken up this fight for patient rights. It’s simply absurd that Canada—and Canada alone—prevents its citizens from fully exercising their fundamental right to seek out healthcare. Please consider supporting this case. We fully expect this case to make its way to the Supreme Court of Canada, so any donations made now will still help us pay the legal fees in the subsequent stages of this important project for healthcare choice and freedom.

Updates on the main case and our freedom of information request

The Canadian Constitution Foundation will be appealing the recent decision by the Supreme Court of BC in our case to find out how much money the Government of BC has spent trying to fight Cambie Surgery Centre and the patient plaintiffs in our Healthcare Freedom case. The CCF will be filing our factum before the end of the year before a hearing date is set to continue with this fight for information the public should have access to.

In a case about healthcare rationing and waiting lists, we believe British Columbians should be able to know how much money their government has spent paying for lawyers to use delay tactic after delay tactic in the hopes of exhausting the plaintiffs.

Healthcare Freedom Case Update

Cambie Surgery Centre and the patient plaintiffs have submitted their final arguments. The oral argument for these submissions begin on November 18 and will go for about three weeks.

You can download and read the plaintiffs’ final argument here.

 

Bruce MacDonald’s experience with BC’s healthcare system

This video was created by SecondStreet.org, an organization that communicates public policy issues with interviews and conversations with regular Canadians.

Bruce MacDonald was told it would be a two- to three-year wait for a surgery he needed to alleviate sinus pain he described as ‘torture’. Instead of waiting, Bruce went to a private clinic to give him his quality of life back. 

Stories like these are precisely why the CCF is supporting the Cambie Surgery Centre and the patient plaintiffs in our healthcare freedom case. The BC government wants to effectively shut down clinics like the one that helped Bruce return to a normal life. Canadians have a right to seek out care when the public system fails them and leaves them waiting without timely care.

CCF Staff Lawyer Derek From says in the above video:

“If we can get a constitutional decision that recognizes that patients have a right to solve their own health problems in a timely fashion, with their own resources, it will completely revolutionize the way that healthcare is delivered in Canada. No longer will provinces be able to say that they’re going to give you a medical service when really they keep you on a wait list…”

BC government will not have to disclose how much they’re spending fighting against patient rights

The Supreme Court of BC has sided with the government in our information request case over government costs in the Cambie case for healthcare freedom and choice. In August of 2017, the CCF filed a request under BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), asking the BC government to come clean on just how much taxpayer money it has spent so far fighting to deny patients their right to timely healthcare treatment. This new decision reverses a decision by an adjudication process, where the adjudicator ordered the BC government to make this financial information public.

Read our release here.

Another expert witness flops for the BC Gov in the Healthcare Freedom Trial

Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull, another expert witness put forward by the Government of BC, has failed to make a convincing argument as to why patients should be denied the right to seek care outside the public healthcare system when that system fails them. His objectivity was also questioned as it was discovered that his expert report was prepared with the assistance of Dr. Irfan Dhalla, a founding member and director of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. This organization is an intervenor in this case and is advocating for the government’s position. Expert witnesses are required to not advocate for any party.

Read more.

Also, don’t forget to read Ian Mulgrew’s latest on the end of the witness phase of the trial. Final arguments are scheduled to be heard this fall.

 

Even more attempts from the other side to delay the trial…

After successfully halting the enforcement of new fines against clinics that have been serving patients in BC for decades, the Government of BC is once again employing procedural delay tactics to fight our Charter challenge by demanding our team subject them to a contempt motion in order to get them to stop sending compliance letters to clinics demanding the payment of said fines. In other words, after our team managed to get an injunction against the fines, the Government is still threatening physicians who perform medically necessary surgeries privately that they may lose their surgical privileges in public hospitals! This is an outrageous move, and yet another ridiculous process our team would have to go through and pay for in order to stop these letters.

We will provide a follow-up to this development soon. In the meantime, you can read about this on CBC. And you can find this motion injunction decision on this issue here as well.

“Out-of-province health care experts out to lunch”

Our healthcare freedom case continues. Just as the Crown’s lawyers have used delay tactics to waste the time of the patient plaintiffs—and the money of taxpayers—these last few years, the Crown wasted more time this last week by bringing in experts who proceeded to admit to the Court that they were in fact not experts on BC’s healthcare system or on the Medicare Protection Act being challenged in this case.

This is appallingly wasteful behaviour for the Government of British Columbia in a case about patients left suffering on waiting lists, to say the least. This is especially the case when it is considered with their other efforts to hide their costs of this marathon legal process.

Read more in Ian Mulgrew’s latest article here.

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