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April 24, 2023

On April 6, 2023 an application for leave to appeal in the case of Cambie Surgeries Corporation v British Columbia (Attorney General), was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Canada. This ruling brought to an end a 14 year legal battle over patients’ rights to access to private health care when wait times in the public system are too long.

At issue in this case was the constitutionality of legal limits and restrictions on private health care. The appellant argued that if the government could not provide timely care in the public health care system, it could not prevent patients from accessing private care - the combination of long wait times and laws limiting private funding for insured services violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Do patient’s have a “right” to access private health care? What are the limitations on private care enacted by the Canada Health Act and provincial health care legislation? Do these statutory provisions amount to an unconstitutional breach of a patient’s constitutional right to life, liberty and security of the person?

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