In an overwhelming victory for Canada’s public healthcare system, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled in September that laws limiting two-tier healthcare in Canada do not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This case, brought forward by Dr. Brian Day and his affiliates, lasted for over ten years and fought to undermine the principles on which Canada’s public healthcare system was found – that healthcare services should be provided based on need, and not how much someone can pay for it. The decision was praised by many, emphasizing that privatization of Canada’s healthcare system is not something that Canadians support.
The ruling by Justice John Steeves of the BC Supreme Court comes at a critical time for Ontario, as the provincial government outlined in its Fall Preparedness Plan that a portion of the $741 million healthcare funding to clear the backlog of surgeries would be allocated to “alternate health facilities”. This includes private, for-profit health clinics.
“Ontario’s hospitals are chronically under-funded,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “Instead of providing healthcare funding to private clinics who give priority to who can pay the most, the government should focus on further reducing the deficit that our public hospitals have been running on, so that they can put more resources into the surgery backlog.”
Thomas also noted that Ontario’s public healthcare system has excess capacity to take care of the surgery backlog. This capacity includes closed, but easily operational, surgical facilities and the ability to increase MRI testing with more funding, making it unnecessary to fund private clinics for this purpose.