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OP/ED: Landmark decision by BC Supreme Court protects public health care

In today’s landmark ruling in the Cambie Surgery Centre case, Justice Steeves dealt a strong blow to the efforts of Dr. Brian Day and others to undermine Canada’s publicly-funded health care system. The decade-long legal attack launched by one of the largest for-profit surgical centres in Canada sought to invalidate key sections of the BC Medicare Protection Act (MPA). This decision ensures that access to health care will continue to be based on need and not on ability to pay.

This is a historic victory against profit-driven health care in Canada,” said Dr. Danyaal Raza, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. “We know that single-payer publicly-funded health care is the fairest way to pay for health care, rather than forcing patients to pay out-of-pocket or buy private insurance. This case was never about wait times - it was always about profit.”

The sections of the MPA that the plaintiffs sought to strike down are in place to preserve a public health care system in which access to necessary medical care is based on need and not an individual's ability to pay. This case has always been about increasing profits for doctors and investor-owned health care facilities.

As a group of patients, doctors and health care advocates, we became involved in this case in order to defend and protect public health care,” said Edith MacHattie, co-chair of the BC Health Coalition. “This is a victory for everyone who uses health care in Canada. Even though the attack had been launched in BC, it took aim at the very heart of the Canada Health Act and every provincial health care insurance plan.”

Justice Steeves’ ruling affirmed that access to health care be based on need and not the ability to pay. He wrote that the sections of the MPA challenged in this case are in keeping with the “objectives of preserving and ensuring the sustainability of the universal public healthcare system and ensuring access to necessary medical services is based on need and not the ability to pay.”

The recent public health emergency caused by COVID-19 has underscored just how important our public health care system is. This decision protects our ability to endure crises and care for one other into the future.

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