Dr. Brian Day and his court case for the ages

Chicken Little and her flock — who want to preserve Canada’s over-priced, mediocre health-care system known as Medicare  — are again in full vocal rhapsody, “The sky is falling. The sky is falling.”

Outside a B.C. courthouse yesterday, a handful chanted and displayed “greed” placards.The catalyst for their most recent chorus is the resumption of the court case launched by Vancouver orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian Day against the government of British Columbia.

Even though Medicare is one of the worst performers among advanced, industrialized countries, Gayle Duteil, president of the B.C. Nurses’ Union describes it as “the jewel of Canada’s health-care system. It’s a core value of our society and we have to defend it.”

It is understandable why Ms. Duteil and the B.C. Nurses’ Union oppose private health care and favor the current, unionized Medicare monopoly. As for it being a jewel, the reaction of Leonard Cohen when he was chosen best male vocalist said it best, “Only in Canada.”

Dr. Rupinder Brar, a board member of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, told reporters: “This case is about profit and not patients.” She acknowledged Medicare “needs improvements, we need to decrease the wait times.” The solution, however, “is not to introduce a for-profit sector.” Really?

In the most recent rankings of 11 countries by the Commonwealth Fund, Canada is No. 10 and the United States is No. 11. All nine countries ahead of us have for-profit sectors that play an important role in the delivery of hospital services and physician services. Moreover, on the notion of equality, Canada ranks No. 10 on “equity.”

Elements of the constitutional challenge by Dr. Brian Day, owner of the Cambie Clinic in Vancouver and a past president of the Canadian Medical Association, include:

  • The right of Canadians to purchase private insurance for hospital services and “medically required” physician services.
  • Quash the law that prohibits physicians from simultaneously practising in both the public system, i.e., Medicare, and in private system.

This court case has been rescheduled three times and is expected to last six months. All parties agree the decision, whatever it is, will be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Globe and Mail columnist Andre Picard, the dean of Canadian medical journalists, writes: “It has been called the greatest threat to Medicare in a generation and perhaps the most important constitutional challenge ever.” http://bit.ly/2c9AAxv

Picard concludes with this thought: “Allowing some private provision of care and broader use of private insurance does not mean the death of Medicare.

“On the contrary, if the proper regulatory safeguards are put in place, and public health dollars deployed for a wider range of services (as in most European countries), we should emerge with a Medicare system that is more universal and more fair.”


Canada’s government-run health care system – Medicare -- is a monopoly that prohibits private hospital and private physician care. Medicare is a subpar performer, ranking 10th among 11 advanced countries. Canadians deserve much better! Patients deserve timely access to quality care and choice of hospitals and physicians. Taxpayers deserve much more value for their tax dollars.

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