The Court Decision That Could Help Fix Canadian Healthcare

Christine Van Geyn

One thing the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed with painful clarity is the woeful inadequacy of Canada’s healthcare system. The system showed that it could not handle the onslaught, but even now, as COVID cases and hospitalizations have been trending down, multiple Ontario hospitals are overwhelmed. The system is in dire need of an overhaul and of some innovative thinking.

… Overwhelmed emergency departments are just the tip of the iceberg. Ontario has a pandemic backlog of one million surgeries and almost 22 million health services. Long wait times for surgery is a systemic issue in Canada caused by the rationing of healthcare services in a system that is run by a government monopoly.

… Innovation is needed. The law in Canada prevents patients from having the option to access healthcare in a crucial way: by paying for it — either directly, or indirectly through private insurance.

In British Columbia, private surgical clinics, including the Cambie Surgery Centre, have challenged the system, alleging that the B.C. Medicare Protection Act violates patients’ Charter rights by prohibiting them from seeking medical care outside the government system when it fails. The court challenge began in 2009 and the trial took more than four years. The trial decision was released in 2020, and the appeal was heard exactly one year ago — in June 2021.

… A decision in this case should be expected soon. The outcome could have a monumental impact on Canadian healthcare, and the perpetual gridlock and wait times that patients have sadly had to grow accustomed to.

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