March 17th marked Day 78 of the Cambie Corp vs B.C. Charter Challenge, which officially got underway in BC Supreme Court on September 6, 2016. It is estimated that the trial could go until as late as mid-December 2017 (including various breaks), so we could be almost, maybe, be about half way through the trial, at least at the Provincial Supreme Court level. It felt like a good time to give a summary of the action in the courtroom to date.
Summary of the trial to date:
The first two weeks of the trial were the Opening Statements – given by the plaintiffs, the defendants, the patient intervenors and the coalition intervenors (us). Canada and the anesthesiologists still haven’t given opening statements.
The plaintiffs, Cambie Corp et al, are still calling witnesses to the stand. Each witness is cross-examined by one or more of the parties or intervenors.
To date, there have been 42 witnesses on the stand. This includes patient witnesses, expert witnesses and lay witnesses (surgeons, doctors, ministry staff etc. who speak of their experiences). The plaintiffs’ current witness list includes up to about another 50 people.
The rest of the court time has been the lawyers wrangling about: process (needing witness information at least two weeks before they are called to the stand), qualifications of the experts, what documents can be or should be admissible, and whether ministry staff can be called as adverse witnesses. Due to a build up of quite a few areas of contention between the parties, everyone agreed that they needed to hold off on calling more witnesses and deal with all the applications at one time. The two weeks before the spring break were focused on going through these applications, and will continue probably through the first two weeks of April.
Schedule Moving Forward:
At the last case management meeting, a general timeline for the rest of the trial from April 3, 2017 to completion was discussed. Times listed are the number of weeks actually active in the courtroom (ie doesn’t include breaks or “off” weeks). Listed in order:
- Completion of Plaintiffs’ case: 6 additional weeks
- Anesthesiologist (BCAS) Opening and Patient Intervenors: 1 week
- Canada Opening and Expert witness: 1 week
- BC: 6 weeks
- Coalition Intervenors: 3 days
With a summer break of 7 weeks, this would take us to sometime in mid-October 2017.
However, one of the Province’s applications that will be heard at the beginning of April will be asking for a 2 month trial adjournment so that the plaintiffs can have all of their witness statements, documents and reports prepared before everyone is back in the courtroom to finish the trial.
This would mean a four month break from about mid-April to mid-August, with the trial then ending closer to mid-December.
Our role as an intervenor:
Our role in the trial is to make sure that all the benefits of medicare and all the dangers of increased privatization (and loss of the current legislation) are not overlooked, especially in regards to equity of care and access for all British Columbians/Canadians. It is important to participate fully in the trial at the provincial Supreme Court level to ensure the case for public health care is as robust as possible. Once this case is appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada level (which it almost assuredly will be), only the evidence presented now will be allowed.