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September 10, 2020

Canada’s nurses hail ruling in B.C.’s Cambie case as a historic win for medicare

Media Release

September 10, 2020 (OTTAWA, ON) – The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions is calling today’s B.C. Supreme Court ruling in the controversial Cambie case a historic win for Canada’s public health care system. Justice Steeves dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims, which aimed to unleash private health care by challenging key principles of the province’s publicly-funded system. The core provisions of B.C.’s Medicare Protection Act upheld by today’s ruling include prohibiting doctors from accepting both public funding and private payment, restricting extra billing and banning duplicate insurance for services already covered under the public plan.

“Today’s ruling against private health care financing is a historic affirmation of the core value Canada’s medicare system is built on – that we should all receive care based on need, not our ability to pay,” said Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Steeves ruled against the corporate plaintiffs, who argued that patients who have to wait for medical care should be able to pay to jump the queue.

“If the plaintiffs really wanted to improve access, as they profess, they would not be trying to create two-tier health care, which will only divert resources and expertise from our public system,” said Silas. “Instead they would join nurses in demanding increased public funding and improvements to public care for all, not just the wealthy few who can pay their way.”

In the ruling’s conclusion, Justice Steeves states, “There is a rational connection between the effects of the impugned provisions and the objectives of preserving and ensuring the sustainability of the universal public healthcare system and ensuring access to necessary medical services is based on need and not the ability to pay.”

Canada’s nurses noted that anyone lured by the plaintiffs’ crusade to unleash private health care should refocus their efforts on improving the public system, not allowing queue-jumping by the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

“Nurses know many aspects of our health care system need improvements, but splintering our public system is absolutely not the path to improving access,” said Silas. “Canadians hold our public health care system dear, and Canada’s nurses will never stop fighting to defend and strengthen it.”

The CFNU thanks the public health care defenders who intervened in the case, including the B.C. Health Coalition, Canadian Doctors for Medicare and the British Columbia Nurses’ Union.


For more information, please contact:
Lauren Snowball, (613) 868-5702,


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