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TV: Dr. Danielle Martin makes the case for public health care on Global's 16x9

November 30, 2012 

Global TV 

Dr. Brian Day has a confession to make. He’s a lawbreaker, and he doesn’t care who knows it.

“We’re in contravention of the B.C. law, we’ve known that since 1996 when we opened,” he says.

Dr. Day may be one of the leading orthopaedic surgeons in the country, but he’s also known as the founder of the controversial Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver. It’s a private, for-profit, hospital and an anomaly amidst a publicly funded Canadian healthcare system.

“If you support the status quo, then you are supporting a system that is killing patients,” he says. 

Dr. Day claims there are over a million Canadians forced to endure painful waits for surgery and he says patients should have the right to spend their own money on healthcare. 

“That they cannot spend their own after-tax dollars on their health care themselves, on their loved ones, and that they have to suffer and die on the waitlist, those laws will be struck down and so they should be,” Day explains. “It’s the exact opposite of what Tommy Douglas envisioned. That the poor and the underprivileged in Canada suffer the most.”

In 2005, Montreal doctor Jacques Chaoulli challenged the Supreme Court regarding provincial laws prohibiting patients from buying private insurance. The Supreme Court ruled in his favour and granted Quebecers the right to purchase private health insurance. Dr. Day wants that decision to extend to the rest of the country so taking the B.C. government to court, challenging the constitutionality of the laws that don’t allow patients to pay for private care. The case is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court in the fall of 2013. 

But critics like Dr. Danielle Martin say private insurance will do nothing to shorten wait times in the public system. Dr. Martin is the founding chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. 

“There’s research, for example, that was done in Australia that shows that when they opened up to a private second tier of healthcare wait times in the public system got longer,” she says. “When you pull those people out of the public system to provide private care, certainly the wait times will get shorter for people who can afford to pay for their care. But the wait times for everybody else get longer.”

Dr. Martin adds that when there’s political will to invest resources in the public system, wait times can be dramatically reduced. 

“When you solve the wait times in the public system you solve them for everyone,” she says. “Not just those people who can afford to pay.”

But despite his critics, Dr. Day is pressing forward with his challenge to provincial and federal healthcare laws. 

“I have always stood up for what I think is right, and I think the Canadian health system is not right now, and it can be made better, and I think that we’ll make it better.”

For the full story watch 16x9 this Friday at 8 PM – AT/MT, 9 PM – CT, 10 PM – ET/PT.

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