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

Usman Mushtaq, Coordinator with the BC Health Coalition at 604-349-9079 or


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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Help Us Debunk Day

With the Cambie Case getting so much coverage in recent weeks we need your help to counter the misinformation that is being spread. 

With the support of right wing think tank the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) and allied columnists, CEO Brian Day has staged a dramatic PR campaign that has consistently distorted the intention and impact of the case. With the Cambie trial drawing to a close, it is now more important than ever to set the record straight and show our support for Universal Public Health Care.

Will you write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and help us debunk Day? It is important for the public to understand what is at stake and letters from individuals are a powerful tool in raising public awareness.

Some media coverage has been so inaccurate that it prompted a rare public rebuke from the Chief Justice of British Columbia who said, in reference to an article written by a Vancouver Sun columnist, that “[it] inaccurately and unfairly misconstrues the procedural history and nature of the Cambie Surgeries trial, a complex constitutional case of considerable significance to Canadians and Canadian society.” 

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Update from the first week of closing arguments

It’s hard to believe Cambie Corporation’s years long legal battle against public health care is finishing up.

This week, as the closing arguments started, we received incredible support both online and at the courthouse. Thank you to those of you who came to the press conference, took notes in court, checked in online, donated to fund our lawyers, commented and shared on social media and have been in this fight with us all the way along. We would not be here without you.

The plaintiffs were the first group able to present their arguments to the judge, one last time. All week we heard a rehash of Cambie Corp’s long winded testimony. Their legal team even tried to submit new evidence, although that isn’t allowed during the final weeks of court. Throughout, the lawyers continue to say this case is about solving wait times for patients, even though we know the laws they are trying to change relate, not to patient access to faster care, but to doctor profits. 

By the end of the week, they: 

  • Had not shown in their written or verbal submissions that the legislation they’re challenging causes wait times;
  • Wanted it both ways in their argument: they said that for 20 years private surgical and diagnostic clinics have been operating in B.C. without harming the public health care system, and yet, over that exact period, wait times in the province have only gotten worse.
  • Had argued that the legislation does actually work. It does stop more private clinics from operating. They said there’s not enough doctors willing to work outside the public system; they need to be subsidized by the public system in order to be profitable in the private system.
  • Had stated in their written submissions that they don’t have to prove, nor does it matter if they do (nor do they ever prove), that wait times will be reduced with more two-tier health care.

The plaintiff's closing arguments reminded us that this case is about allowing publicly paid doctors to charge whatever they want in private clinics - a change that could incentivize their spending more time in the private tier, while still being subsidized by the public system. It’s also about allowing American-style insurance companies to enter the Canadian market so that more people choose private care - expanding the private clinic’s clientele.

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