Dr. Brian Day elected head of Doctors of B.C.

B.C. doctors have elected one of the country's strongest advocates for private health-care options to lead their professional organization.

Co-owner of Vancouver's Cambie Surgery Centre is an advocate for private health-care options

Dr. Brian Day, who co-owns the Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver, was elected Tuesday to take over as president of Doctors of B.C. (Chuck Stoody/Canadian Press)

B.C. doctors have elected one of the country's strongest advocates for private health-care options to lead their professional organization.

Dr. Brian Day, who co-owns the Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver, was elected yesterday to take over as president of Doctors of B.C. — formerly known as the B.C. Medical Association — in 2016.

The vote was hardly an overwhelming show of support for Day — only 20 per cent of the roughly 10,000 eligible doctors voted, and Day beat his closest opponent by just one vote. 

Day said he isn't impressed by the poor turnout and said doctors need to get more involved in shaping the health-care system.

"Doctors need to be involved in elections and need to be involved in designing the health-care system that we need for the future."

That future includes letting people pay to use private clinics if waits in the public system are too long, Day said.

"In my specialty of orthopedics, we have over 150 unemployed young orthopedic surgeons who can't get a job in Canada, and yet the biggest wait lists are for orthopedic surgery," he said.

"This is the kind of nonsense government monopoly has produced."

Long-delayed legal battle

Day, who served as president of the Canadian Medical Association in 2007, is no stranger to health-care politics.

In 2012, the B.C. Medical Services Commission alleged Day's clinic violated the Medicare Protection Act by billing patients nearly $500,000 in total for procedures that are normally covered by publicly insured medical services.

At the time, Day said he had no intention of changing his billing practices as ordered by the commission.

Instead, he launched a lawsuit against the the provincial government, arguing patients have the right to receive and pay for health services as they wish, rather than endure long waits for medical treatment.

Day believes patients have the right to receive and pay for health services as they wish, rather than endure long waits for medical treatment. (CBC)

The long-delayed court case could start in November, and Day said he won't take over as president of Doctors of B.C. until the trial is over.

Dr. Monika Dutt, who is with Canadian Doctors for Medicare, said she's disappointed with Day's win.

"This is someone that has been shown to be extra-billing and yet is still elected to this position of leadership," said Dutt.

Health Minister Terry Lake said the province will be chatting with its lawyers, about what dealings provincial officials can have with Day while the court case is ongoing.

Day said he has never supported the privatization of health care in Canada, and accused his detractors of deliberately distorting his position.

"Like most Canadians, and most physicians, I believe there is a place for the private sector and for public-private partnerships," he said after his election as head of the CMA in 2006.

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