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Cambie vs Canadian Health Care: A Charter challenge against universal care

For-profit clinic owner Dr. Brian Day has launched a constitutional challenge that could fundamentally change Canada’s public health care system.

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The case is going to trial in September 2016.

Day wants to accomplish two things with the legal challenge:

  • He wants to change laws so that publicly-funded doctors can charge whatever they want in for-profit clinics.

  • He wants to make it possible for US style private insurance companies to operate in Canada.

We’re a group of patients, physicians and health care advocates. We represent the vast majority of people in Canada who believe that health care should be provided based on need, not ability to pay.

Day says for-profit health care will make hospital wait-lists shorter, but international evidence shows that increasing for-profit care has no impact on public wait times [1]. 

Wait times for some elective surgeries need to be addressed. Evidence shows that, in some cities and provinces, innovations in the public system are shortening wait times in ways that benefit everyone. We need to apply these successes across Canada immediately.

Adding a second private tier would not solve our current challenges - worse, it would mean longer wait times, poorer health, and runaway health care costs for Canadians [2].

Often, only a select few can afford care in for-profit clinics and sometimes, for-profit care doesn't even help the person who receives it.  Research has shown that the total time spent recovering from an injury is shorter in the public system [3].

If Day wins this case, it could set a dangerous precedent for the rest of the country, and move Canada toward a US-style two-tier health care system. But the evidence is on our side. We're going to do all we can to keep Canada's medical system strong and accessible to everyone.

 

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[1]  Kreindler, S. (2010).  "Policy strategies to reduce waits for elective care: a synthesis of international evidence." British Medical Bulletin, 95(1), 7-32.

[2] Wendy Armstrong. (2000). "The Consumer Experience with Cataract Surgery and Private Clinics in Alberta: Canada’s Canary in the Mine-Shaft." Consumers’ Association of Canada (Alberta)

[3] Koehoorn M et al. (2011) "Do private clinics or expedited fees reduce wait- or return-to-work times for injured workers following knee surgery?" Healthcare Policy 7(1):55-67