British Columbia

B.C. doctor wants public system to regulate insurance in private clinics: lawyer

A lawyer for patients and doctors fighting to maintain public health care in British Columbia says a proponent for private care wants to benefit from provincial regulation of private insurance while ignoring aspects of a law aimed at discouraging a parallel system.

Lawyer for patients tells court Dr. Brian Day's position amounts to cherry-picking parts of medical act

Dr. Brian Day says the trial is about patients' access to affordable treatment, while his opponents accuse him of trying to gut the core of Canada's medical system. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

A lawyer for patients and doctors fighting to maintain public health care in British Columbia says a proponent for private care wants to benefit from provincial regulation of private insurance while ignoring aspects of a law aimed at discouraging a parallel system.

Joe Arvay told B.C. Supreme Court Thursday that Dr. Brian Day's position amounts to cherry-picking parts of the Medicare Protection Act, which requires doctors to opt out of billing the government for work in the public system while also earning more money in private clinics.

Arvay says doctors who work in the public system are known to refer patients to private clinics where they also practise in order to bypass wait times that apply to everyone who can't afford to pay out of pocket or through private insurance.

He says the physicians stand to financially benefit from such a scheme and wait times are only exacerbated when they work outside the public system.

Sterile instruments are laid out as a male patient is prepped to have a cyst removed from his right knee at the Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Day says private clinics, like the Cambie Surgery Centre that he owns, are needed because wait times are too long and worsen patients' conditions.

Arvay says Day has failed to establish any threshold for how long a wait is too long and never argued that the law should be changed to allow patients to get private surgery or diagnostic tests if current benchmarks for wait times set by the province are surpassed.

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