Dr. Brian Day, Medical Director of the Cambie Surgery Centre, sits for a photograph at his office in Vancouver on Aug. 31, 2016. A lawsuit that begins today in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver has the potential to fundamentally change the way Canadians access health care. Day, who operates a private surgical centre in Vancouver, is challenging B.C.’s ban on Canadians buying private insurance for medically necessary services already covered by medicare. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Dr. Brian Day, Medical Director of the Cambie Surgery Centre, sits for a photograph at his office in Vancouver on Aug. 31, 2016. A lawsuit that begins today in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver has the potential to fundamentally change the way Canadians access health care. Day, who operates a private surgical centre in Vancouver, is challenging B.C.’s ban on Canadians buying private insurance for medically necessary services already covered by medicare. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

B.C. Supreme Court rules against private healthcare centre, sides with province

Case was between Cambie Surgery Centre and the province

The B.C. Supreme Court has ruled against legalizing private health care in a landmark ruling released Thursday (Sept. 10).

After a trial between the province and the Cambie Surgical Corporation that spanned nearly four years, Justice John Steeves ruled against founder Dr. Brian Day’s assertion that patients should be able to pay to access private surgery and tests sooner if they deem the public system wait times to be too long.

The 880-page decision did note that too-long wait times can harm patients with deteriorating conditions.

“Specifically, some of these patients will experience prolonging and exacerbation of pain and diminished functionality as well as increased risk of not gaining full benefit from surgery,” Steeves wrote.

Day, an orthopedic surgeon, has hinged his decade-long legal battle on arguments around patients having a right to pay for services if wait times in the public system are too long. He operates the Specialist Referral Clinic, which refers patients to the Cambie Surgery Centre, a multi-specialty surgical and diagnostic facility, containing six operating rooms, recovery beds and overnight stay rooms. The centre is considered to operate at standards equivalent to a major public hospital in B.C.

He had maintained that four plaintiff patients have been deprived of life, liberty and security under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms after suffering harms from waiting for surgery in the public system before they sought care at his clinic.

The plaintiffs in the case did not claim that a two-tier system would shorten wait times in the public system. The plaintiffs instead used sections seven and 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to assert that B.C. cannot maintain a monopoly over medical services if it cannot guarantee timely care.

Day first opened the clinic in 1996, stating that his motivation was not profit but rather to provide surgeons and patients with more operating hours.

However, the facility has been operating since 2003 in violation of the provincial Medicare Protection Act.

In 2018, the province announced it would start to fine doctors $10,000 for a first offence if the charged patients for procedures and services that were available under the public system. However, Day received an injunction from the B.C. Supreme Court to pause fines until his case was dealt with.

Shortly after the ruling came down, Health Minister Adrian Dix said he was “extremely pleased” with the judgement.

“It’s fair to say… that this ruling emphasized the strength and importance of public healthcare as a cornerstone of our identity in British Columbia,” he said.

“Access to necessary medical care is based on need and not on an individual’s ability to pay.”

Dix said the province would review the decision before taking action, saying they don’t have a date set out to begin enforcing the Medicare Protection Act.

He did acknowledge that there is a role for private clinics in the province’s duty to provide health care, but noted those centres are contracted exclusively for day surgeries.

Black Press Media has reached out to the Cambie Surgery Centre for comment.

READ MORE: B.C. health care battle in judge’s hands but expected to land in Canada’s top court

More to come.

– with files from The Canadian Press


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BC Supreme CourtHealthcare

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tofino expects to elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Nomination period begins for Tofino byelection

Tofino is set to replace former mayor Josie Osborne, who is now the Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Quebec’s BEI completes investigation into Chantel Moore’s fatal shooting by Edmundston police officer

New Brunswick’s public prosecutions services and chief coroner to conduct public hearing

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is reminding visitors that all dogs must be leashed at all times. (Westerly file photo)
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve urges dog owners to show respect by leashing their pets

“As Coastal Stewards, we appreciate seeing you with your pets on leashes.”

West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni received some good news about an expansion to its emergency department on Jan. 15, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
B.C. health ministry commits $6.25M to hospital expansion in Port Alberni

Plans for larger emergency department have been on hold since 2015

A Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation guardian took this photo of dozens of vehicles parked along a forest service road in the Kennedy watershed. (Submitted photo)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District looks at enforcement of illegal camping

ACRD currently does not have an existing bylaw service to tackle the issue

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
COVID rapid tests in long-term care key during vaccine rollout: B.C. care providers

‘Getting kits into the hands of care providers should be a top priority,’ says former Health Minister

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. turns to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supplies slow

Pfizer shipments down until February, to be made up in March

B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training announced funding to train community mental health workers at four B.C. post-secondary institutions. (Stock photo)
B.C. funding training of mental health workers at four post-secondary institutions

Provincial government says pandemic has intensified need for mental health supports

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
No Pfizer vaccines arriving in Canada next week; feds still expect 4M doses by end of March

More cases of U.K. variant, South African variant found in Canada

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

An empty Peel and Sainte-Catherine street is shown in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19

Egg producers in B.C. aren’t obligated to reveal their production sites. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Officials say there’s not enough Vancouver Island eggs to meet demand

BC Egg Marketing Board doesn’t regulate labelling, supply needed from off-Island

Most Read