(Black Press Media file)

(Black Press Media file)

Key to keeping doctors from private health care is a strong B.C. Medicare: UBC prof

Quebec’s example could provide a guideline for B.C.

The battle over a private surgery centre in Vancouver could have big implications for physicians choosing whether to practice in the public or private system.

That’s according to Michael Law, a professor at the University of B.C.’s school of population and public health. Law partnered with University of Victoria researchers to look at how Quebec doctors left the public health care system after two policy changes. The first was a 2005 Supreme Court of Canada ruling on Chaoulli v. Quebec that found the province’s banning of private insurance for publicly insured medical services violated the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. The second was a regulatory clampdown forbidding double billing that was implemented by Quebec’s government in 2017.

In B.C., the issue of double billing is likely headed to the province’s top court, after the Cambie Surgery Centre lost a bid to double-bill patients at the B.C. Supreme Court. Double billing is when a health-care provide bills the patient and the government for the service. Owner Dr. Brian Day had claimed the B.C. government was denying patients the right to timely care by not letting them go private.

Day lost the ruling, but will likely appeal the decision.

Law said the decision of that ruling could have longstanding implications for B.C.

“British Columbia does not allow physicians to practice in both the public sector and private sector, you either have to be in or out,” he said. “One of the sections in the Medicare Act that was under challenge was that section.”

Law said that his team looked at Quebec doctors because unlike B.C., that province publishes a monthly list of physicians who have opted out of the public sector. In B.C. he said, while private surgery clinics are popular, it’s impossible to tell how many doctors are leaving the public system.

In Quebec, the number of doctors leaving is significant. For specialists, researchers found 23 doctors opted out in 1994, compared to 150 in 2019 – a 552 per cent increase.

For family doctors, the rise in those leaving the public system was even higher. In 1994, nine family doctors had opted out of the public system. By 2019, that number had grown to 347 – a spike of 3,755 per cent. If that trend is mirrored in B.C., where family doctors are already often lacking, the province could have a problem on its hands.

But Law said that regardless of the results of the Cambie Surgery Centre’s appeal, there are steps the province can take to make sure doctors stay in the public system.

“Don’t give people a reason to want to go to the private sector,” he said. “You need to maintain a level of quality and accessibility in the public sector that doesn’t make people feel the necessity of going private and paying to get things done.”

READ MORE: B.C. Supreme Court rules against private healthcare centre, sides with province


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Healthcare

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fire crews are on scene in the 400 block of Fourth Avenue SE at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24 as smoke billows from a residential building. Motorists are advised to avoid the area. (Jim Elliot - Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm firefighters respond to smoke in a building on Fourth Avenue SE

Crews were called to the scene at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24

The District of Sicamous announced plans to purchase and manage the Sicamous Medical Centre on Tuesday, Feb. 24. Colleen Anderson and Malcolm Makayev have been overseeing this and other health matters on behalf of the district’s council. (Jim Elliot-Eagle Valley News)
Sicamous to purchase retiring doctor’s business, take over management

Move intended to attract new doctors by allowing them to focus on patient care

Malakwa firefighters bring a barn blaze under control in the 4,000 block of the Trans-Canada Highway on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Barn fire prompts fundraiser for Shuswap family of eight

Blaze leaves Malakwa family in need of feed, supplies for beloved horses

The City of Salmon Arm’s wastewater treatment plant. (File photo)
City to pursue pilot project targeting smell at Salmon Arm’s sewage treatment plant

Staff wish to give new technology a try at wastewater facility

Okanagan students, left to right, Scotia Hewitt, Brandon Viguers, Daniel Landrecht, Honor Hollman and Vanessa Cupit. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News staff)
Okanagan students come together to express the importance of kindness

Pink Shirt Day is on Feb. 24 and while there will be no in-person gatherings, everyone can be kind

The Penticton Speedway has been sold but the investment group who bought it is planning to create an enhanced racetrack and racing experience. (File photo)
Penticton Speedway sold and will remain a racetrack

Investment group that includes founder of Area 27 intends to buy the Speedway

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

(File photo)
‘Give me your stuff! Oh, hello, officer’: Man surprised by Kamloops Mountie

A man trying to enter a vehicle stopped in Kamloops was greeted by an off-duty Kamloops Mountie inside

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Project rendering of Hadgraft Wilson Place (CNW Group/Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)
68-unit affordable housing complex coming downtown Kelowna

The six-storey complex located on Fuller Ave is set to be completed by fall 2022

A man was arrested after he refused to vacate Alexander’s Beach Pub in Coldstream while not adhering to the business’s COVID-19 mask-wearing policy Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Google Maps photo)
Man arrested for refusing to leave Coldstream store without wearing mask

Store owner says man likely came in looking for an argument: ‘the fellow had a notepad’

Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP and the BX-Swan Lake Fire Department are on scene of a reported quonset fire fully involved in the 900 block of Pottery Road. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Crews douse North Okanagan workshop fire

BX-Swan Lake Fire Department battling blaze on property in Vernon Wednesday, Feb. 24

Justin Morissette is still recovering from the injuries sustained in the altercation. He is not yet able to walk without assistance. (Justin Morissette, Twitter)
B.C. man suing city and police over violent altercation with anti-LGBTQ preacher

Justin Morissette argues police knew the threat the preacher posed, and failed to keep the peace

Most Read