BC FORUM News - from BC Health Coalition, April, 2019
New chapter in Brian Day trial: court to hear from defendants and patient intervenors in support of public health care
Counsel for Attorney General of Canada opens with argument that striking down public health care law would “turn back the clock” on health care in Canada, lead to major health inequality
April 16, 2019
(Vancouver) For the first time since the trial began in 2016, the BC Supreme Court will hear from defendants and intervenors in the constitutional challenge to Canadian public health care launched by private, for-profit clinic CEO Brian Day.
Counsel for the Attorney General of Canada provided opening remarks today in defence of universal public health care. Their evidence will show that the legislation the plaintiffs oppose is precisely what ensures that B.C.’s health care system is universal and equitable, and losing it would mean the end of Canada’s universal public health care system.
The plaintiffs, led by Brian Day -- CEO of the private, for-profit Cambie Surgeries Corporation -- are asking the court to allow physicians to bill patients unlimited amounts for all procedures and services, and to enable private insurance companies to sell insurance for services already covered by the public system. Their case began in September 2016 and after several procedural delays, the plaintiffs completed their testimony last week.
The AG of Canada will continue testimony throughout April and the Defendant Attorney General of BC will begin expert witness testimony May 7th, which is likely to last until into the fall of 2019.
Intervenors in the case will also be taking the stand throughout May. The BC Health Coalition is one member of an intervenor group, along with two patients, two physicians, and Canadian Doctors for Medicare. The two patients, one living with Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy and the other living with AIDS, represent those who stand to lose the most in this case - economically vulnerable people who rely on a sound public health care system.
As intervenors in the case, BCHC and Canadian Doctors for Medicare will bring expert evidence before the courts about the costs that for-profit health care and health insurance could have for Canada as well as evidence showing how Quebec’s Chaoulli case has undermined patient access to care.
“Right now, Canadians access care based on our need, not our ability to pay. This lawsuit strikes at the heart of that principle,” says Adam Lynes-Ford, BC Health Coalition Campaigner. “Without universal care, evidence shows we’ll be left with a US-style, two-tier health care system: where people go bankrupt, lose their homes and life savings, or worse, because they can't afford treatment when they need it.”