Court decision underscores the need to strengthen and improve our public health care system, not dismantle it

Last week at the BC Court of Appeal a panel of three judges unanimously dismissed the appeal launched by Cambie Surgeries Corporation (CSC). The appeal was the latest round in the more than a decade-long legal attack on public health care launched by CSC, one of the largest for-profit clinics in Canada. This upholds the landmark 2020 BC Supreme Court ruling against Cambie Surgeries - one of the most comprehensive and longest verdicts in BC Supreme Court history. 

The Court found that the key provisions in the BC Medicare Protection Act at stake that prohibit extra billing and duplicative private insurance for medical necessary procedures are “premised on the principle of equity such that patients are prioritized based on medical need and not ability to pay”. 

The Court also agreed with the 2020 BC Supreme Court decision that the harms of striking down these provisions would result in longer wait times for the vast majority of us who rely on the public health care system. In fact, the Court’s decision underscored that the objective of equitable access to medically necessary services is a fundamental part of our public health care system, noting  “suppressing all private care is necessary” to meet the objective of an equitable health care system.

This latest decision has come at an important time. Our public health care system is under immense pressure - no doubt about that. And we need all hands on deck to strengthen and improve it. We have public solutions that are efficient, evidence-based, and proven to reduce wait times while improving the quality of care in an equitable way. 

With this latest stage in the Cambie case ending, we are refocusing on promoting new and existing public health care improvements such as single entry surgical referral models, which would reduce wait times. At the same time, we continue to raise the alarm in other areas of our health care system where for-profits interests are draining staffing capacity and resources.