The B.C. Court of Appeal has unanimously upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a Vancouver surgeon’s challenge of the Medicare Protection Act, saying bans on extra billing and private insurance do not violate the Charter.
The court did find the lower-court judge erred in his analysis of the right to life and said in its ruling on Friday that the act’s provisions do deprive some patients not only to their right to security of the person, but to the right to life.
However, the court ruled that breach can be overruled by Section 1 of the Charter, which says rights can be limited if they are shown to be reasonable in a democratic society.
“We are extremely pleased with today’s decision from the B.C. Court of Appeal,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.
“This ruling emphasizes the importance of our strong public health-care system, which is a cornerstone of our Canadian identity. The purpose of the Medicare Protection Act is to have a publicly managed health-care system for B.C. in which access to necessary medical care is based on need and not an individual’s ability to pay.”
The BC Nurses’ Union also supported the decision.
“Today’s appeal court judgment is a victory for all patients,” it said in a release.
“The ruling upholds important sections of the BC Medicare Protection Act that ensure patients do not need to pay out-of-pocket for medically necessary health care.”
Dr. Brian Day of the Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver had challenged the act, saying wait times in the public health system are too long and stopping patients from paying for those services outside the public system violates their rights.
With files from Canadian Press.