Dr. Brian Day, a former president of the Canadian Medical Association, went to court last week to launch the case, according to a Guardian report. Day wants the court to allow citizens to pay privately for medical services. If the court agrees with Day, it could end the equal access to health care that defines Canada’s system, according to the report.
“Medicare promises universal, free and equal access to health services for all Canadians. There are no qualifying tests about money, social status, family or power. All citizens are equal,” wrote the Guardian in an editorial.
“Day, a former president of the Canadian Medical Association, says Canada is the only country in the world that bans citizens from paying for medically covered services privately. He himself has charged both the B.C. government and patients for some medical services.”
Day argues that restricting for-profit health care violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He says the current system violates patients’ constitutional rights by forcing them to deal with long wait times, which in turn can allow their health to grow worse.
But opponents worry that if Day is successful, private clinics will hire doctors away from hospitals and public practices – meaning the people who can’t afford to pay a premium for private health care will see even longer wait times.
“People who can pay will get treatment ahead of a person whose life might depend on getting immediate care,” the Guardian editorial worried. If Day is successful, it predicted, the court could “strike down Medicare as we know it and allow a US.-style system with longer wait times, high insurance rates and skyrocketing costs, as limits are lifted on what doctors can charge patients.”
A case before a BC courtroom could radically change the way Canadians receive their health care.