Poll Suggests That Cambie Surgery Does Not Represent Public Opinion

For immediate release

Monday, December 2, 2019

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

This is the core issue being argued before the Supreme Court of British Columbia in the landmark legal challenge that will enter its final week of arguments today.

Corporate plaintiff Cambie Surgeries Corporation seeks to change the laws that ensure healthcare is more responsive to a person’s health needs than to the size of their chequing account. Striking down these key provisions of the Medicare Protection Act would incentivize publicly enrolled doctors to spend more time with patients who pay to see them over those who come through the public system. This legal challenge would also open up the Canadian health insurance market to U.S. private insurance firms, bringing with them the profit-first ethic that has severely compromised care in the U.S. 

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

When asked, 4 in 5 British Columbians said they believed an increase in for-profit private-pay health care services would only help the wealthiest British Columbians - those who can pay to access health services faster.

This is supported by the overwhelming evidence presented throughout the trial, including cases such as Australia where 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 equally.

If this Charter challenge were to succeed, it would fundamentally change the way we access health care. However, the poll found that the majority (71%) of British Columbians were not aware of the trial and its possible impact.

The BC Health Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare, along with two doctors and two patients, are Intervenors in this case, representing the average British Columbian who relies on our health care system without worry of financial hardship. Their closing arguments will take place on December 5 at 10 am.


Find the full poll results click here.



Ayendri Riddell

Campaigner, BC Health Coalition

Phone:  604-787-6560

Email:   [email protected]