August 18, 2014 10:00 pm

B.C. Supreme Court to hear a major case on the right to private health care

In a landmark court case that is shaping up to be the biggest health care fight in our province’s history, a B.C. doctor says patients are waiting too long for treatment and should have the right to spend their tax dollars on private care if they can’t get access to health care in a timely manner.

Brian Day is a former Canadian Medical Association President and a partner in a private clinic.

He is taking the provincial government to court to force the issue.

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“We want to achieve that by striking down what we consider to be very draconian laws in Canada that tell you as a free citizen in a free country, that no matter how much you are disabled, you cannot spend your own money on your own health,” says Day.

His patient paid for his own ACL operation because the public system was unable to accommodate him for months.

Day says the fight is for this patient and others who have to wait.

A battery of lawyers with reams of legal arguments and 130 witnesses are ready to go to court.

“The issue in this case is whether the state can prevent its citizens from accessing private health care when the state cannot provide timely health care in the public system,” says Peter Gall, the lawyer for the plaintiffs.

In France, throughout Europe and in countries with universal health care, patients have the right to use their tax dollars and personal funds to buy procedures at private clinics.

The competition between public and private hospitals has eliminated or drastically shortened wait lists.

In Quebec, residents have already won that right and Brian Day is trying to achieve the same result for British Columbians.

“Eliminating queues saves the system money,” says Day. “So the public health system will have a lot more money in it because people deteriorate while they wait.”

Lawyers for the Ministry of Health did not provide a comment to Global News.

The trial starts Sept. 8.

With files from Brian Coxford

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