Plaintiffs apply to postpone constitutional challenge in order to seek resolution in face of mounting public pressure and looming trial.
Vancouver (27 Aug. 2014)—The BC Health Coalition (BCHC) and Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM) welcome the possible resolution of a Charter challenge to public health care law launched by for-profit clinic owner Dr. Brian Day. The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is a supporter of both the BCHC and CDM and is financially assisting in the legal defense of this case.
“We are pleased that Day seems to be finally recognizing the need to abandon a law suit that never had any merit, and was no more than a stalling tactic that has allowed him to flout the basic rules of medicare, rules that virtually all other Canadian doctors respect and comply with,” says Rick Turner, BC Health Coalition co-chair. “The case has cost far too much time and taxpayer money already.”
Court case sought to introduce two-tier health care
The legal challenge took aim at public health care law and sought the introduction of US-style two-tier health care in Canada. It was scheduled to go to trial on September 8, 2014 in BC Supreme Court.
Yesterday the BC Supreme Court case judge granted a request from Dr. Day's legal team for a 6 month delay of the trial in order to pursue a resolution with the defendant BC government.
Both BCHC and CDM have intervener status in the Charter challenge. They are now calling on the BC government to ensure that the resolution made with Day’s plaintiffs protects equitable access to care for patients.
Dr. Day yet to committ to ending unlawful billing practices
"The request for a resolution is a positive first step but we are quite disappointed that, as of yet, we have not heard Dr. Day make a commitment to actually stop unlawfully billing patients,” says Dr. Monika Dutt, chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.
“A 2012 B.C. government audit of Day’s Cambie and Specialist Referral clinics revealed that these clinics extra-billed patients $491,654 in roughly a 30 day period,” says Dutt. “Even more outrageous is the fact at the same time, claims appear to have been submitted by the clinic to the Medical Services Plan for services provided to some of these same patients.”
Looking for a positive resolution
In the next week, the BCHC and CDM will outline to Health Minister Terry Lake the terms of resolution that they believe the province ought to advocate for. In the meantime, Day must immediately cease charging patients for services that are covered by the MSP — the province must insist on nothing less.
“I’m hoping to see this case end once and for all. It is a distraction that prevents us from focusing on real solutions to issues like long wait times that will not compromise Canadian values of equitable access to health care based on need not ability to pay and responsible management of public funds,” says Turner.
Dr. Dutt agrees, noting that, “Brian Day’s request for a settlement allows us to re-focus on what really matters: working with health care providers and all levels of government to create better medicare across Canada. ”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE