The legal battle for private medicine being conducted by Vancouver’s Dr. Brian Day in the case of Cambie Surgeries Corporation vs. (the attorney general of) British Columbia is a heroic struggle Day has been leading for many years to improve Canada’s health-care system. He founded the plaintiff company and it is one of the largest private medical facilities in Canada. He has 100 doctors and dental surgeons and he owns almost 10 per cent of it. Cambie Surgeries performs over 5,000 surgical procedures a year and has revenues of over $10 million a year. Day says that private clinics do more than 60,000 operations in B.C. and save the provincial government $300 million each year. Day dismisses the government arguments of the need for uniform treatment as piffle: there are exemptions for workers’ compensation, the armed forces and RCMP, and even federal prisoners, and others. To the charge of only favouring private medicine to make more money himself, Day replied that he could make much more if he took one of many offers to move to the United States to practice medicine, but has chosen to continue “improving the provision of surgical services in B.C. and not maximizing (his) financial well-being.”
Day, a Liverpool (U.K.) native, is 71, and was brought up in a tough district where his father was eventually killed by hooligans and he went to the same secondary school as Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison. He and his family were far-left socialists, until he became disillusioned by the sloth and incompetence of Labour Party and union officials in the U.K. health service. Day moved to Canada in 1973 and became a leading orthopaedic surgeon, and in 2006, the president of the Canadian Medical Association. Day traces the failings of the Canadian health-care system to the Canada Health Act of Pierre Trudeau and Monique Bégin in 1984, which strongly discourages private health-care payments by withholding an equivalent amount from federal cash transfers to the provinces.
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