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The Legal Attack on Public Health Care

We risk losing our public health care system in 2017.

Right now, there's a legal challenge in motion that could erase Canadian Medicare as we know it – resulting in a two-tier, US-style health care system.

Dr. Brian Day, owner of Vancouver's for-profit Cambie Surgery Centre and the leading proponent of privatized health care, launched a constitutional challenge in 2009 that is at trial in B.C. right now. This challenge aims to break Medicare in Canada by striking down provincial health legislation that limits the for-profit delivery of medically necessary services, claiming that these rules violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Parties in the case, including the BC government, are calling this the most significant constitutional challenge in Canadian history. Although this case is being heard in British Columbia, experts agree that the case will be appealed and end up in the Supreme Court of Canada – that's why it's important to everyone in Canada.

If Dr. Day wins, he'll open the floodgates to a US-style system that relies on private insurance, and allows providers to set any price on care that the market will allow.

For Canadian families, this means that they will have to purchase private health care insurance for essential and emergency care like they do in the United States – if they can afford it.

In the US, private health insurance through employers costs $16,000 for an average family of four, with employees paying over $4,000 for family insurance, with a $2,000 deductible.

In Canada, the actual cost of our public system insuring a family of four is half of that - $8,000, paid through our taxes. The administration of our Medicare system is just 1.3% of health care costs – while in the US, administration eats up 31% of health care spending. And costs in the US are out of control, with reports of just a single stitch costing $500!

Businesses that set up shop in Canada won't have to bear these expensive costs for employee health insurance, and they'll have healthier workers.

Clearly, there's a lot at stake. That's why the BC Health Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare are interveners in this case.

This means that we are able to fight for Medicare in court by participating directly in the case to make sure public health care is protected. As interveners, we are able to represent the majority of Canadians and health professionals who believe in the value of our Medicare system.

The BC Supreme Court level is the pro-Medicare side's chance to influence the outcome of this case. Our intervener group has secured a strong legal team including leading constitutional and health litigators Steven Shrybman and Joe Arvay. All advise that our participation at the BC Supreme Court level is essential because the evidence and facts provided at the trial stage in B.C. will be the record upon which a Supreme Court of Canada decision will be made.

We came perilously close to losing our public health care system with a similar case in Quebec in 2005 because there wasn't enough evidence at the provincial level to support Medicare – we can't afford to make that mistake in BC.

The direction we have to go is clear. Getting there is a challenge. We need to make sure all Canadians know about this critical challenge and what they can do to support our public health care system.

To that end, we will be working on a campaign to bring attention to the case between now and the trial date in September so that everyone in Canada knows what's at stake. Although judges will decide the case, we know that the last court case about our health care system was heavily influenced by public opinion.

So help make it loud and clear!

For on-going updates, please go to www.savemedicare.ca.

Campaign Updates & News

Medicare under attack

August 12, 2014 | Murray Etty  Campbell River Mirror Our pubicly-funded health care system is in jeopardy.  Not only has the Harper government refused to work out a new health care accord with the provinces, but Dr. Brian Day is presenting a legal challenge to the Canada Health Act, which comes before the Supreme Court of B.C. on Sept. 8.…Read More

Doctor threatens Canadian health care

August 14, 2014 | Bob Bastian  Trail Daily News How much do you know about our Canadian medical system? Have you heard of Dr. Brian Day? Do you know what he is trying to do? I believe that all Canadians need to be aware of what is happening in our medicare system. This doctor is trying to change the way medicine is practised in Canada, making it more like what exists in the United States.…Read More

Save public health care system before it's too late

August 14, 2014 | Nancy Czignany Alberni Valley Times Beginning Sept. 8, the biggest challenge, to date, to Canada's medicare will be heard in British Columbia's Supreme Court. If successful, our public healthcare system will crumble across the country. The constitutional challenge is being led by Dr. Brian Day who operates the private forprofit Cambie Street Clinic in Vancouver.…Read More

For profit health care has no right operating in Canada

August 15, 2014 | Gillian Bateman The Province Beware! Our health-care system is being accosted! Despite its “warts,” Canadians value Canada’s health-care system. It has been a right for over 40 years, since Tommy Douglas fought to provide equitable, world-class health care to all Canadians. So why is Dr. Brian Day’s B.C. Supreme Court case not garnering greater media coverage and public attention?…Read More

Constitutional challenge could mean the end of health care in Canada as we know it

Zoe Levitsky | Comox Valley Record   Dear editor, Dr. Day, owner of a for-profit clinic in Vancouver, is challenging the Constitution for the right for private health care in Canada in September. It may be a long fight but it could also mean, if he wins, the Americanization of our Canadian system.  Under NAFTA, large US corporations are kept out of Canada only as long as we have a fully public system.…Read More

Hospitals left to fix ‘crisis’ of problems from weight-loss surgeries done at for-profit clinics

July 18, 2014 | Tom Blackwell The National Post  She had once dreamed of easy, medically enhanced weight loss, but Beth’s high hopes came to an excruciating end last year with a “huge pop” — from inside her body. Like thousands of other Canadians struggling with obesity, the Toronto woman, helped by her mother, had paid for weight-loss surgery at a private Ontario clinic, won over by marketing that promised rapid, effortless slimming.…Read More

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