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The Facts on our Constitutional Challenge

Charter Health Crowd
Our constitutional challenge was started in January 2009. The trial date has now been set for June 2016 – over 7 years after the initial launch.

The plaintiffs in the legal challenge are:

  1. Cambie Surgery Centre: private surgical facility
    founded in 1996 to offer Canadians freedom of choice
  2. Chris Chiavatti: 18, knee injury
    permanent damage due to the wait
  3. Mandy Martens: 37, colon cancer sufferer
    cancer spread while waiting
  4. Walid Waitkus: 16, progressive spine deformity
    paralyzed after 27 month wait
  5. Krystiana Corrado: 16, prospective college athlete
    held back by knee ligament injury
  6. Erma Krahn: 80, terminal lung cancer
    died while waiting for the case to go to trial
  7. Sadly, a 7th plaintiff is no longer with us: brain tumour patient
    died while waiting for the case to go to trial

The following are just a few of the facts to be laid before the BC Supreme Court:

  • Of 196 countries in the World, Canada alone outlaws personal spending on necessary health care.
  • In Canada, the lowest socioeconomic groups have the worst access and health outcomes – the opposite of the original goal of our system.
  • "The evidence shows that delays in the public health care system are widespread and patients die as a result of waiting lists for public health care" Supreme Court of Canada, 2005.
  • Our system is inefficient and expensive. We have 1 public health bureaucrat for every 1400 Canadians. (11 times the number in Germany, with a hybrid system, universal care, and no wait lists).
  • A survey has shown that 26% of Canadian doctors have had a patient die on a wait list.
  • In England in 2003, Prime Minister Tony Blair engaged the private sector to help eliminate wait lists. Long wait lists in England have been eliminated.
  • The European Consumer Powerhouse rated Canada's health system 23 of 30 in quality, and last in value for money compared with 29 countries. Many including France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, and Switzerland, demonstrate superior care and access with hybrid public-private systems.
  • 70% of Canadians have extended (private) insurance that covers services considered medically necessary in other countries and 76 % think they should be able to buy private insurance for treatments outside the public system: (Ipsos Reid Poll June 28 2012).

What is this about?

In the 2005 Chaoulli case, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the rights of Quebec residents were violated by laws that forced citizens to wait, while denying them the right to access care outside of the government system. Those laws were overturned. Our challenge is based on the argument that all Canadian residents suffering on wait lists should have the same protection under the constitution that the Supreme Court granted to Quebec citizens (under the Quebec Charter). Our case will be argued under the Canadian Charter and will have have application to all provinces. The defendants in our case are the BC Minister of Health, the BC Attorney General, and the BC Medical Services Commission. BC still has on its books a law, having been passed by the BC Legislature (and having received Royal assent), that is simply awaiting proclamation by Cabinet. If proclaimed, the result will be an initial fine of $10,000 ($20,000 for a repeat offence) for those who enable sick or injured patients to expedite their care. Other provinces have similar laws. The goal of this court action is to eliminate queues and make such laws irrelevant.

If this action succeeds, it will enable all Canadians to exercise rights similar to those available to citizens in all other countries. Cambie Surgery Centre has undertaken to indemnify all plaintiffs in this action against costs and damages. The trial will involve major costs, particularly relating to the expenses of expert witnesses (including international experts) and legal fees. The Canadian Constitution Foundation is assisting in fund raising, and is able to issue tax receipts to those who support the action.

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Our health system is supported by and dependent upon philanthropic donations. Sadly, that support is subsidizing an inefficient system that would be improved through competition and choice. Please consider making a generous donation to support this effort, with the goal of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our overall system.

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