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.

Patients are waiting longer for operations according to sworn statements

Our healthcare freedom case for patient rights resumed again this Monday. As revealed by sworn statements by surgeons working in BC, the lack of operating time being rationed has not been able to keep up with what is needed for suffering patients.

As Pamela Fayerman reports:

…He used to tell patients they’d get their surgery in 2.5 years. Now [Doctor] Javer, the head of the St. Paul’s Sinus Centre and co-director of ear, nose and throat research at UBC, says he has to tell them the waiting time has gone up to four years.

Read more about this newly presented evidence in the Vancouver Sun here. And please consider donating to this case using the button below to fight for the right of all patients to seek out medical care in the private sector when they’re left suffering on a government waiting list.

The BC government doesn’t want you to know how much money it has wasted fighting against patient choice

In the summer of 2018, BC’s Freedom of Information and Privacy Commissioner ordered the BC government to disclose the total litigation cost spent on the Cambie case between 2009 and 2017.

Despite this order, the province has stalled and blocked the release of the information by filing a judicial review. Last week, at the judicial review, BC government lawyers vigorously opposed letting taxpayers know the total cost, claiming it could somehow reveal the government’s litigation strategy if we knew how much taxpayer money was spent and that the number could be used to embarrass the government!

The judge of the BC Supreme Court that heard the review has reserved judgement, and we expect a decision in the coming weeks. The CCF believes that BC taxpayers should have the right to know how much of their money has been used litigating against patients’ rights.

In other news…

Health policy expert and C.D. Howe scholar Åke Blomqvist had an excellent article published in the Globe and Mail yesterday. The CCF’s fight for patient rights in our healthcare freedom case is often wrongly painted as an attack on public healthcare, and articles like this go a long way in correcting the myths about Canada’s current provincial healthcare systems.

Read the Full article here.

Important upcoming date and more good news!

For two years the CCF has been trying to find out how much the BC government has spent fighting to deny our patient plaintiffs’ right to seek care and to shut down the Cambie Surgery Centre. Despite a freedom of information adjudicator ordering the government to comply with our request, the BC government has remained stubborn on the issue and used every legal and administrative tool at their disposal to delay the issue further.

We are now eagerly awaiting a March 28 Judicial Review hearing where the Supreme Court of BC will hopefully make a judgement in favour of taxpayers and those defending healthcare freedom in the Cambie case.

In other news, the BC government has quietly delayed enacting penalties on private clinics and doctors. Though we were successful in getting an injunction recently against these same penalties for surgery clinics, the injunction did not include clinics offering MRI, CT and PET scan imaging. Now they will be spared for at least another year while we continue to defend the right of all BC patients to seek care.

Good news!

The Attorney General of British Columbia’s application for leave to appeal the interim order of a Supreme Court judge in chambers enjoining enforcement of sections 17-8 and 45 of the Medicare Protection Act is dismissed.

This means the clinics that have been operating in BC for more than 20 years can remain open for the duration of the Charter challenge. This is fantastic news for patients who rely on these clinics as their only source of necessary, timely treatment.

Read that decision here.

All Canadians should have an equal right to seek healthcare

Quebecers who are facing lengthy waits for medical procedures can opt to go to private clinics. Don’t the rest of Canadians deserve that option? Check out this great article in the National Post by CCF board member and MD, Will Johnston.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The Cambie trial resumes in January.

Court grants injunction in healthcare Charter case!

This is big news. Obtaining an injunction against legislation coming into force is always a steep uphill battle and such injunctions are rarely granted. That is why we are thrilled to say 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.

This is just an interim victory, but it keeps the clinics — which have been treating patients for more than 20 years in BC — open while the 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 waiting lists.

Read the full release here. The decision can be downloaded and viewed here.

BC goes to court to hide costs of landmark healthcare trial from the public

BC really doesn’t want you to know how much the government has spent since 2009 fighting against patients suffering on waitlists who want their Charter right to timely treatment. Since 2009, the BC Government has been litigating against patient plaintiffs who have suffered as a result of rationed healthcare and who have benefited from services offered by private clinics, like the Cambie Surgery Centre, which have operated in BC for more than two decades.

Last year, the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), which is supporting the plaintiffs’ Charter challenge, 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 public money it has spent so far fighting to deny patients their right to timely healthcare treatment.

At first BC stonewalled. They acknowledged that they knew the number, but they refused to provide it. They alleged that somehow we were seeking to gain an advantage in the litigation, which they argued could be gleaned from knowing how much they had spent on the case since it started eight years earlier. This was preposterous. As we made clear over and over again, the CCF was not looking for any solicitor-client privileged communication. We sought only disclosure of “the total sum spent by the BC Government on the Cambie case from 2009 to 2017” and “[did] not seek to have that total global figure broken down by service provider, by year, by hourly rates, or in any other way.”

So we persisted.

And on August 14, 2018, the BC Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner sided with us and ordered that, “pursuant to s. 58 of FIPPA I require the Ministry [of the Attorney General] to give the applicant access to the total cost of litigation contained in the record by September 26, 2018.”

Victory, right?

For more than a month we heard nothing from the Government. Finally, on September 25, 2018, the day before they would have to disclose how much taxpayer money that had spent on the case, the BC Government filed a petition in the BC Supreme Court to have the Information Commissioner’s order quashed.

Last week, we filed our response, clarifying once more that all we are seeking is one number – one single number, representing the amount of taxpayer dollars the BC Government has spent so far litigating against patients who just want to exercise their constitutional right to access timely healthcare – a number the BC Government admits it has, but refuses to make public.

Quotes:

CCF Staff Lawyer Derek From said:

A central stated purpose of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is to “make public bodies more accountable to the public … by … giving the public a right of access to records”. Patients suffering on waiting lists are taxpayers, and the Government is using their money to fight to limit their healthcare choices. So why aren’t they allowed to know how much? Why is the Government fighting so hard – and expending even more tax dollars doing so – to keep the public in the dark about the millions of dollars it is spending to fight patient choice?

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