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B.C. court tosses private clinic's bid to be exempt from paying daily court fees

Dr. Brian Day, Medical Director of the Cambie Surgery Centre, sits for a photograph at his office in Vancouver on Wednesday, August 31, 2016. A British Columbia Supreme Court judge says a private clinic that is suing the province over restrictions on private health insurance must continue to pay daily court fees.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
August 29, 2017 - 8:30 AM

VANCOUVER - A British Columbia Supreme Court judge says a private clinic that is suing the province over restrictions on private health insurance must continue to pay daily court fees.

The plaintiffs in the case, which include Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver, asked in June that they either be exempt from the $800 daily fee or that the province pay it for them because of the "undue hardship" it caused.

Justice John Steeves dismissed the request last week, noting in his written decision that the two corporate plaintiffs involved in the case admitted they could afford to pay.

The trial has covered about 80 days, putting Cambie Surgery Centre and the other plaintiffs on the hook for at least $52,000 in daily court fees.

The application would not have applied to fees already owed, only those accrued in the future, and they account for a fraction of the overall cost of the proceedings.

The lawsuit challenges B.C.'s ban on private insurance for medically necessary services already covered in the public system, arguing the restriction violates patients' constitutional rights by forcing them to endure unacceptably long wait times.

The trial began last September and was originally expected to last six months, but numerous disputes over the admissibility of evidence and the qualifications of expert witnesses have prolonged the case.

Dr. Brian Day, an orthopedic surgeon and owner of the Cambie Surgery Centre, said the decision on court fees is a "serious deterrent" to anyone who tries to argue for legal protection under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Day said the government is deliberately delaying the trial in order to deplete the plaintiffs' resources.

"The decision on court fees is a further incentive for government lawyers to continue to slow down the hearing, in the hope it will cause us to abandon our case," he said on Monday.

The provincial government has declined to comment on the allegations.

Proponents of Canada's single-tier system have argued that expanding the role of the free market in health care prioritizes profit over patients and would negatively impact the majority of Canadians, especially the country's most vulnerable citizens.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
InfoTel News Ltd

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