Just days away from the scheduled start of a court case that is viewed as pivotal to the future of health care in Canada, residents of Vancouver turned up at the private clinic at the centre of the controversy to deliver a letter asking Dr. Brian Day to withdraw his case.
“I’m concerned about what this case could mean for the future of our public health care system, and so we are asking Dr. Day not to go forward with the case,” said Amy Lubik, a cancer researcher who joined other concerned people outside the Cambie Surgery Centre on Ash St. on Thursday morning to present their appeal directly.
“One of the things that Canadians are most proud of is our health care system, and the fact that it’s available for people who need care and not for who can pay for the most care,” Lubik said. “This case could open up our medicare system to more of a two-tiered system, and for me that’s very scary.”
Day’s case is scheduled to begin Sept. 6 at the B.C. Supreme Court, as the doctor and long-time champion of expanding private health care services in Canada challenges the province’s ban on purchasing private medical insurance for services covered by the public system. Day argues that this proscription violates the constitutional rights of Canadians. The B.C. Supreme Court’s decision will have ramifications for how provinces across the country implement the Canada Health Act.
The Cambie Surgery Centre has been open for two decades, and Dr. Day has become a leading advocate of increased privatization of health services, claiming that the public system is bogged down by long wait times.
“Studies have consistently shown that privatization doesn’t work,” Lubik read from her letter before walking in and presenting it to the receptionist at the private clinic. “We implore you instead to champion some of the public solutions that would improve the public health care system for everyone, while not putting those who can pay more in the front of the queue.”
Lubik was joined by several other supporters of Canada’s single-payer, universal health care system. “I can’t imagine not having our public health care system, and we have to fight to defend it,” said Sarena Talbot, after speaking about her own family’s challenges with the health care system.
After speaking to the media, the group walked in to hand-deliver their letter requesting that the case be withdrawn. No one from the clinic was available for comment. Lubik reported that the letter was received courteously by staff at the front desk.
With the trial beginning in just a few days, expect to see more actions and statements around this case by civil society organizations. The Vancouver chapter of the Council of Canadians, among others, is encouraging supporters to “pack the courts and defend public health care,” urging people to fill the public galleries for the first day of the trial at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.