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Dr Brian Day sues to overturn BC private-care ban

A new lawsuit claims British Columbia's Medicare Protection Act is unconstitutional because it denies patients the right to seek medical care in the private sector if they so choose, reported the Vancouver Sun.

The plaintiffs in the case are the Canadian Medical Association's outspoken past-president and owner of the larger private Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver, Dr Brian Day (right); the False Creek Surgical Centre's Anna Stylianides; and Canadian Independent Medical Clinics Association president Zoltan Nagy.

The Sun's Pamela Fayerman and Catherine Rolfsen wrote:

"The plaintiffs will argue that the 2005 Chaoulli Supreme Court of Canada case should be applicable in B.C. In that case -- brought by appellants Jacques Chaoulli, a doctor, and George Zeliotis, a patient -- the highest court struck down Quebec's ban on private insurance for medically necessary services. The private clinics are expected to argue that citizens should be allowed to buy private health insurance to use in private clinics if their operative care is not delivered in a timely manner in the public system."
More details should emerge after today's press conference. Canadian Medicine will keep you posted.

Update, Thursday, January 29: Read accounts of the press conference and the reactions of Liberal Health Minister George Abbott and NDP health critic Adrian Dix, in the Vancouver Province, the Vancouver Sun, the Canadian Press, and The Globe and Mail.

  • Check out what readers are saying about the news on the Vancouver Sun's Soundoff page.
  • Read my 2007 article "Chaoulli copycat cases crop up across Canada" from the National Review of Medicine, about the effects of the Chaoulli decision beyond the borders of Quebec.
  • I also wrote about an Ontario lawsuit similar to this BC case.
  • In August, as Dr Day ended his term as CMA president, Canadian Medicine asked, "Was Dr Brian Day's CMA presidency a success or a failure?"

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  1. Sam Solomon30 April, 2009 5:09 PM

    The following comment was sent by an American reader.Greetings from the USA,

    I'm a Registered Nurse in Florida who has spent most of my 19+ years practicing along side Canadian nurses in Seattle and Spokane, WA.

    The reason I'm writing is the far right wing of the Republican party as taken this story and portrayed it as Canada's failed healthcare system. [Their criticisms are] running frequently on TV commercials, but it's not what I've always heard from Canadian RNs. It's actually quite the opposite, and since I'm a critic of the cutthroat for-profit system here in the U.S. I'd like to know how Canadians really feel about their healthcare.

    Does it work and are people satisfied? Our system is a miserable failure, but you won't get a politician here to say anything other than that it's the best system in the world.

    Scott Johnston RN

  2. Anonymous12 May, 2009 10:07 AM

    And do you think it hasn't failed in Canada???? I have lost a brother to cancer and now have a sister-in-law having to wait for treatment for cancer.Both from Ontario Canada!!!!!

  3. Dr. Sean21 May, 2009 3:27 PM

    Actually 6 dying of asthma in an inmate population of 180,000 is very very good. many more people die of asthma in the non-prison population. But that is really beside the point. The point is that whoever said prison was supposed to be a good and comfortable place. Prisons should and must have higher mortality and morbidity rates than outside prisons. Why should normal, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens of California including victims' families bear the cost of BETTER healthcare to the worst rapists and murderers If the federal government thinks these child molesters and killers deserve better care than California offers, then Sillen and his moronic/fake charade should be borne by the federal government, not be Californians. Maybe then, the federal gov could see the travesty that it's supporting.

    Dr. Sean in Canada

  4. doctor18 May, 2010 2:33 AM

    Very impressive blog post.

  5. Anonymous3 September, 2010 5:28 PM

    I'd like to start a lawsuit of my own here in British Columbia.
    For a surgical procedure that would take approximately 1 hour, I have been told that I have to wait over a year.
    In the meantime, I have been to the emergency several times over this issue, and now I have complications due to having to be on morphine and other painkillers. Oh, and I cannot forget that I am in excrutiating pain for over 8 hours per day, and I have lost one of my jobs due to this. And, I don't have EI insurance and all the other bells and whistles to protect me. If it wasn't for my husband, I would have lost my home by now and would be probably living in a shared accomodation crack-infested room, as that would be the only home I could afford. Either that, or in my car.

    So - tally up the costs: 5 emergency visits at a cost of approximately $500 each, plus countless visits to the doctor, plus thousands in lost wages, plus complications from the painkillers, lost weight, etc.........

    Our government sure can demand taxes, taxes, taxes, but when canadians desperately need a simple operation, what do they do? Effectively refuse us those operations by making us wait unacceptably long times.


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