Update: Continuing to defend public health care

We're pleased to announce that we have been granted intervenor status by the BC Court of Appeal in the Cambie case. This continues to build on the work we’ve been engaged in for the last ten years as we successfully defended public healthcare at the BC Supreme Court.

In September 2020, the BC Supreme Court ruled against Dr. Day and Cambie Surgeries in a landmark victory for public healthcare in BC and nationally. The Court found that Day was seeking to create a two-tiered US-style healthcare system where the wealthy and healthy got the care they needed at the expense of the majority. 

Unfortunately, Day and his supporters filed an appeal of the decision almost immediately proving that this challenge is not about evidence for them but about profits. Last week, the BC Court of Appeal ruled that the Save Medicare coalition (Canadian Doctors for Medicare, the BC Health Coalition, and our patient intervenors) can continue to intervene at the Appeal level. This is big news! It means we can continue to defend our public healthcare system and the landmark decision already passed by the BC Supreme Court. 

Now as we move toward the next steps in the Appeal process, let's revisit the September 2020 decision and why the previous verdict was a huge win for public healthcare.

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BC Health Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare mourn the passing of Joseph J Arvay, O.C, O.B.C, Q.C

The BC Health Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Joseph Arvay, O.C., O.B.C., Q.C. As Coalition Intervenors in the Cambie trial, Joe was a key member of our legal team. In the legal battle to defend public health care in BC, Joe and his team was our voice in the courtroom.

Joe approached the case with not only his tremendous experience as a constitutional lawyer, but also the passion of an advocate determined to protect the public health care system we all rely on. He was our lawyer, but he was also an ally and a friend.

Those who have worked closely with him over the years remarked that every encounter with Joe was both intellectually rewarding and intensely personal. He was known for his rare gift of having a conversation with the judge and everyone in the courtroom - managing to get at the heart of the matters at hand in an engaging and personal way.

While we were fortunate enough to work with him on the Cambie case, the breadth of Joe’s work and the impact he had on Canadian law over the span of his career cannot be overstated. He was a fierce advocate for human rights and social justice and will be remembered as one of Canada’s greatest constitutional litigators.

Joe is perhaps most famous for his role in Carter v. Canada, the case that paved the way for medical assistance in dying. Other landmark cases involved bringing an end to indefinite solitary confinement, defending the right  of a community group to run supervised-injection facilities (Insite), striking down prostitution laws (Bedford), and the 2004 same-sex marriage decision..

At this time, we extend our condolences to  Joe’s family, friends, and colleagues. He will be sorely missed by so many.


Press Release: Cambie ruling a victory for public health care in Canada

(Unceded Coast Salish Territories - Vancouver, BC) In today’s landmark ruling in the Cambie Surgery Centre case, Justice Steeves dealt a strong blow to the efforts of Dr. Brian Day and others to undermine Canada’s publicly-funded health care system. The decade-long legal attack launched by one of the largest for-profit surgical centres in Canada sought to invalidate key sections of the BC Medicare Protection Act (MPA). This decision ensures that access to health care will continue to be based on need and not on ability to pay.

This is a historic victory against profit-driven health care in Canada,” said Dr. Danyaal Raza, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. “We know that single-payer publicly-funded health care is the fairest way to pay for health care, rather than forcing patients to pay out-of-pocket or buy private insurance. This case was never about wait times - it was always about profit.”

The sections of the MPA that the plaintiffs sought to strike down are in place to preserve a public health care system in which access to necessary medical care is based on need and not an individual's ability to pay. This case has always been about increasing profits for doctors and investor-owned health care facilities.

As a group of patients, doctors and health care advocates, we became involved in this case in order to defend and protect public health care,” said Edith MacHattie, co-chair of the BC Health Coalition. “This is a victory for everyone who uses health care in Canada. Even though the attack had been launched in BC, it took aim at the very heart of the Canada Health Act and every provincial health care insurance plan.”

Justice Steeves’ ruling affirmed that access to health care be based on need and not the ability to pay. He wrote that the sections of the MPA challenged in this case are in keeping with the “objectives of preserving and ensuring the sustainability of the universal public healthcare system and ensuring access to necessary medical services is based on need and not the ability to pay.”

The recent public health emergency caused by COVID-19 has underscored just how important our public health care system is. This decision protects our ability to endure crises and care for one other into the future.



For media inquiries please contact:

Katie Arnup, Executive Director of Canadian Doctors for Medicare at 647-289-5205 or [email protected]

Usman Mushtaq, Coordinator with the BC Health Coalition at 604-349-9079 or [email protected]


About the Intervenors:
The BC Health Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare, along with two doctors and two patients, are Intervenors in this case.

The BC Health Coalition (BCHC) advocates for evidence-based improvements to our public health care system, stimulates public education on health care issues, and drives positive change to our health care system through campaigns across the province.

Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM) provides a voice for Canadian doctors who want to strengthen and improve Canada's universal publicly-funded health care system. We advocate for innovations in treatment and prevention services that are evidence-based and improve access, quality, equity and sustainability.


Social Media Shareables

Share our victory!

Please visit our Facebook page and share some of these quotes from today's win. 



Public Health Care on Trial Video Series

We're excited to share the Public Health Care on Trial video series, with experts David U. Himmelstein M.D., Steffie Woolhandler, M.D and Andrew Longhurst, MA explaining the potential implications of the Cambie Surgical Trial, the most serious threat that our Public Health Care system has ever faced.

The video series consists of four talks:

You can watch the videos below. Click here to download the slides.

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Final Days Are Finally Here

The final 3 days of arguments in the Cambie Surgeries Case resumed on Tuesday, February 25 following an unforeseen court delay, and ended February 28, 2020. The court’s decision is expected to take at least several months before it is released. 

During November and December, public health care supporters across the country came together to defend an equitable and accessible health care system from those who would put profits over patients. Supporters volunteered to cover 31 court watching shifts, 228 people wrote letters to their editor and hundreds more used social media to fact check Brian Day.

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Update - the court will resume in the new year

We heard at the end of last week that the last 3 days of closing statements, including the closing statements from our lawyer, will be rescheduled for sometime in the new year. We were hoping the closing arguments would be over before the end of 2019. However, as seems to be the case throughout this years-long trial, nothing is smooth going and will have to wait a bit longer for the end, and the judgement. We will keep you informed, once we know the new dates. Thank you all for your support, and Happy Holidays. Until 2020!


Court will not be in session the rest of this week

A note came from the court this morning that Justice Steeves is unable to attend court for the remainder of the week. The remaining closing arguments will be rescheduled. We will keep everyone posted once we know more. Thank you for all your support, and to everyone who has been coming to the courthouse and sharing our emails and social media posts. 


Spread the word: Poll Suggests Cambie Surgery does not Represent Public Opinion

90% of British Columbians agree that access to healthcare in the province should be based on need rather than ability to pay.

This ability to ensure healthcare is more responsive to a person’s medical needs than to the size of their chequing account, is being attacked in the constitutional challenge that will enter its final week of arguments today.

The corporate plaintiffs claim to represent the will of the public. However, a poll conducted by Research Co. which surveyed 800 British Columbians, clearly shows that this could not be further from the truth.

Let’s make it clear that the corporate plaintiffs don’t represent the public interest. Post these social media graphics with the hashtags #CambieCase #NotToDay to let your networks know that there's broad support for public health care.

Health care should be based on need not ability to pay   Most people support public health care   For profit care would mostly help the wealthiest 

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Cambie Case Week 2 Update

This week, lawyers for the Attorney General of BC (AGBC) and the Attorney General of Canada (AGC) began their closing arguments in defense of public health care.

Interesting points from the week include:

  • The defense emphasized local and international evidence that a private tier drains resources from the public system and adds pressure on the public system 
    • In Australia, those with private insurance are treated faster in public hospitals than patients covered under the public health care system (42 day wait for public patients v. 20 days for private patients for elective surgeries). This is despite laws that say public and private patients are to be treated the same.
    • “testimony [from patients] included evidence of incidents in which patients who had paid for private treatment at Cambie experienced complications and had to be treated in the public system at public expense.”
  • The AGC and AGBC argued that the legal changes would make it possible for dual practicing doctors to subsidize their corporate profits with public dollars and demonstrated the significant financial motivations behind the corporate plaintiffs claim; 
    • The AGC said that “[for] the corporate plaintiffs the only real benefit of striking the [challenged legislation] is that they will increase their profits.” 
    • The AGBC cited Dr. Day's personal compensation from Cambie Surgical which ranges from approximately 1.14 million to 2.218 million per year. 
    • The AGBC also noted that “the majority of the plaintiffs' physician witnesses are affiliated with the corporate plaintiffs, either as shareholders or physicians with privileges at Cambie and SRC and receive in most instances significant financial remuneration.”

Next week, the AGC will finish their submissions and the intervenors (including our lawyers) will have their moment to bring their arguments in front of the judge. Joe Arvay, on behalf of our lawyers, will take the stand on Thursday December 5th at 10am  defending the right for everyone to receive the care they need, based on need, not on their ability to pay.  The final day of this decade-long trial will be next Friday December 6th.

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