A court case that could allow the rich to have preferred access to certain health services started this Tuesday, September 6, in Vancouver.

Dr. Brian Day, owner of the for-profit Cambie private clinic in British Columbia, filed a constitutional challenge designed to allow more private health services. If successful, it would allow for a two-tier health care system. This would certainly undermine services in the public sector. This is a threat to the very foundations of our universal public system. 

Using a similar argument as the Chaoulli case, Dr. Day is contending that the long waiting lists in the public sector justify using private health care. He even argues that allowing access to private health care would facilitate the delivery of care in the public sector, which is totally inaccurate.

“The great majority of the Canadians support the principles of a free, public, universal, accessible health care system. Supporters of privatization are now attempting to use the courts to undermine the foundations of our public system. That is unacceptable. We already know that further privatization would only increase waiting lists by diverting staff and resources that are currently part of the public system,” said Mark Hancock, national president of CUPE.

Supporters of a public system are not sitting idly by. Several groups and coalitions are recognized as intervenors before the Court. They will show that privatization decreases access to care for the majority of people. The federal government has also recently announced that it will be involved in the proceedings. But we do not know yet precisely what its position will be.

An audit of Dr. Day’s private clinic found that in a single month in 2012, the clinic had billed patients illegally for nearly half a million dollars. That does not seem to indicate that Dr. Day has the welfare of his patients or the public at heart.

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