On Monday, the Council of Canadians participated in coordinated media conferences in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax to express concern about the future of public health care in Canada as the British Columbia government seeks an out of court settlement with Dr. Brian Day. Last Friday, Council of Canadians Board member Leo Broderick spoke at a similar media conference in Charlottetown.
24 Hours reports, "In 2012, a Medical Services Commission audit found Cambie Street Clinic had charged patients nearly $500,000 in 'extra billing' practices — charging additional fees after accepting government money for services — in a 30-day period. Clinic president Dr. Brian Day countered by launching a constitutional case against the province’s health-care laws, arguing that limiting patients from accessing private health care when the public system cannot provide services in a reasonable amount of time is a violation of citizens’ charter rights. The case, originally scheduled to start earlier this month, was adjourned until [March] 2015."
News 1130 adds, "The [B.C.] government is currently negotiating a settlement with the Cambie Surgery Corporation’s Brian Day..."
In Toronto, Council of Canadians Board member Steven Shrybman said, "In order to protect patients, the B.C. government must hold private clinic owners and operators accountable when they break the laws prohibiting extra-billing and user fees. Though the challenge was launched in British Columbia, it has the potential to bring two-tier care to Canadians across the country."
In Vancouver, Council of Canadians health care campaigner Michael Butler spoke at the media conference outside Dr. Day's Cambie Surgery Clinic.
Global News reports, "Doctors and B.C. public healthcare advocates gathered outside the Cambie Surgery Clinic in Vancouver [yesterday] morning — calling for an end to alleged extra billing at private medical clinics. ...Canadian Doctors for Medicare and the BC Health Coalition [of which the Council of Canadians is a member] have intervener status in the court case. The two groups are urging the government to take action on an audit, which revealed alleged extra billing at two of Day’s clinics." Those actions include upholding the Medicare Protection Act, penalties to deter the breaking of the law, a fuller audit of Dr. Day's clinics, and restitution payments to the patients who were overbilled.
In his blog, Butler writes, "The B.C. government has both an opportunity to hold these health privateers like Dr. Day accountable and show a commitment to equitable health care solutions for everyone, now it is up to us to demand it."
Provincial and territorial health ministers are meeting today in Banff and will be joined by federal health minister Rona Ambrose tomorrow.