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Public health care on trial this week

Dr Medicare in Canada is being put on trial starting today as Dr. Brian Day’s lawsuit against the B.C. Ministry of Health begins at the province’s Supreme Court. The outcome will have national implications for Canada’s universal, public health care system.

“Make no mistake, this reckless attack on medicare isn’t about finding real solutions to public health challenges or making medicare better, it is about greed and opening the door for two-tiered U.S.-style care,” says Michael Butler, Health Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “Dr. Profit is jeopardizing the universal public health care system everyone in Canada relies on for his and his shareholders’ personal gain.”

Dr. Day co-founded Vancouver’s private Cambie Surgery Centre and the Specialist Referral Clinic, which have both violated B.C.’s medical act by engaging in extra and double billing practices. A 2012 audit conducted by the B.C. government found that in just one month, Dr. Day’s clinic had illegally billed patients nearly $500,000, including $66,734 in overlapping claims where Day billed both the patient and the province. This earned him the moniker “Dr. Profit.”

“Brian Day claims his court case is about a patient’s right to pay for health care. But, in fact, we already pay for health care through our taxes. We already have rights guaranteed in law that enable us to obtain hospital and physician services based on need. And that is the law that Brian Day is challenging,” says Colleen Fuller with Independent Patient Voices Network. “Day is fighting for the right of the Cambie Surgery Corporation to double bill for the services they provide. If he wins, we will be paying twice for the same service – once through our taxes and once through the nose.”

Analysis shows that for-profit clinics entice physicians away from public hospitals, leading to increased wait-times. These clinics also “cherry pick” patients with low-risk conditions, leaving the public system to take care of patients with complicated and expensive health needs.

“The cornerstone of our medicare is the principle that health care should be provided according to a patient’s needs, not ability to pay,” says Butler. “Preferential treatment that puts profits over people has no place in Canada.”

The Council of Canadians is holding a demonstration outside the B.C. Supreme Court on September 6 at 9:00 a.m. PDT to defend Canada’s universal, high-quality, public health care.


For more information or to arrange interviews:

Michael Butler, mbutler@canadians.org, 416-414-1684

Colleen Fuller, 604-441-6296