Intended for healthcare professionals


Canada’s ban on private healthcare faces legal challenge

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 16 September 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i5045
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

Canadian laws banning private healthcare for serious medical conditions are facing their first notable legal challenge in decades, in a case spearheaded by a former president of the Canadian Medical Association.

The case before the Supreme Court of British Columbia has pitted Cambie Surgical Centre of Vancouver and five patients against the province’s Medical Services Commission. But its ramifications for healthcare across Canada led the federal government to request standing as an intervenor in the case.

Health Canada argued that the provincial legislation being challenged has language that mirrored the Canada Health Act, “making this case of significant importance not only to British Columbians, but to all Canadians.”

Noting that Canadians “overwhelmingly” supported universally accessible healthcare, the federal department argued that “any challenge to a principle …

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