In particular, Day wanted the ability to charge patients beyond the public plan, allow paying patients to jump the queue and allow doctors to give preferential treatment to wealthy patients with private insurance or those willing to pay out-of-pocket. It also stops private clinics from enacting extra patient charges and taking private insurance for necessary medical procedures.
Dr. Jacques Chaoulli speaks at a press conference after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in his favour for a two-tiered health care system, July 9, 2005.
Her statement was echoed by the B.C. Health Coalition, a group that advocates for improvements to the health-care system, whose members also intervened in the case.
Day, an orthopedic surgeon, has argued patients have a constitutional right to pay for private medical services if wait times in the public system are too long.
"The decision published by Justice Steeves is an attack on the health of British Columbians", Day said after the decision was made public.
Lawyers for both the B.C. and federal governments argued such an approach would erode Canada's universal health-care system and hurt patients with complex chronic conditions and the elderly.
In the court's ruling, the Honourable Mr. Justice Steeves dismissed the plaintiffs' claims that the B.C. Medicare Protection Act violate their rights under ss. 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Dr. Darius Viskontas, left, prepares to remove a cyst from a male patient's knee, with assistance from Dr. Anne Wachsmuth, centre, and Miwa Holm, an operating room registered nurse, at the Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver on August 31, 2016.
However, Day sought and won an injunction in November 2018, when another judge stopped enforcement of parts of the act until their validity could be determined at trial.
Dix said private clinics have played a small role when they are contracted to do day surgeries and a year ago performed about 12,000 procedures out of 300,000 done in the public system. "This is a decisive win for universal public health care in Canada", said CUPE National President Mark Hancock.
The Chaoulli case, named after a Quebec doctor barred from setting up a private hospital, dealt exclusively with the province's ban on private health insurance, not the extra-billing question. "The court in Chaoulli found that very similar legislation, which prevented patients from seeking private insurance ... violated the Charter's section seven".
The case went to B.C. Supreme Court in 2016.
The society is now calling on the province to commit to patient wait time guarantees, and it's hoping the government will consult with front-line workers on how to improve waits for patients.
Hajdu said the ruling was especially important in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and that Canadian governments would continue to defend universally accessible health care. Steeves ruled that patients are harmed by waiting lists, but the violation of their security of the person was not contrary to fundamental justice. This decision protects our ability to endure crises and care for one other into the future.