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.

The changes Cambie’s lawyers are arguing for would serve the healthiest and wealthiest, while eroding the public system that the rest of us rely on. Doctors and nurses can’t be in two places at once - if they spend more time in the private system, you can imagine what will happen to wait times in the public system.

Next week, the Defense, the Province of B.C. and the Attorney General of Canada, will have an opportunity to present their closing arguments. We expect them to argue that Cambie’s “cure” will only exacerbate existing problems. We’re planning an action to spread the word about Cambie’s false claims - stay tuned for ways you can be involved.

The week after that (December 2-6th), the intervenors will take the stand and we will be in the courtroom on December 5th, defending the right for everyone to receive the care they need, based on need, not on their ability to pay.  

Some Media highlights from this week:

You can keep up-to-date on what is happening in the courtroom, and with our campaigns, by watching this blog or following us on facebook or twitter.