Cambie private clinic ruling supports fair and equitable access to public health care

September 10, 2020

VANCOUVER – Unifor is relieved that the B.C. Supreme Court has dismissed a constitutional challenge by a private health clinic attempting to make for profit, private health care legal.

“Today public health care won and this is a victory for everyone who uses health care in Canada,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Even though this attack was launched by a greedy doctor in British Columbia, it took aim at the very heart of the Canada Health Act. Justice Steeves decision ensures our health care system will continue to be based on need not on ability to pay.”

Cambie Surgery Clinic CEO Brian Day launched a decade long constitutional challenge after he learned his private for-profit surgical centres were going to be audited by the B.C. Government. The Cambie clinic sought to make health care more profitable by striking down the key sections of the British Columbia Medicare Protection Act. In particular, Day wanted the ability to charge patients beyond the public plan, allow paying patients to jump the queue and allow doctors to give preferential treatment to wealthy patients with private insurance or those willing to pay out-of-pocket.

“Today’s ruling sends a strong message to those wanting to privatize our health care system – Canada’s public health care is here to stay,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to Unifor National President. “Canadians want improvements to their health care system and that starts with all levels of government providing adequate funding and support.”

In the court’s ruling, the Honourable Mr. Justice Steeves dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims that the B.C. Medicare Protection Act violate their rights under ss. 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.