Justice Centre appeals constitutional challenge for access to health in Alberta

John Carpay and Darcy Allen at at Calgary courthouse July 2012

John Carpay and Darcy Allen at at Calgary courthouse July 2012

On November 24, 2014, the Justice Centre filed its factum arguing that Alberta’s prohibition of private health insurance violates Canadians’ Charter s. 7 rights to life and security of the person.  Our argument is based on the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Chaoulli v. Quebec which overturned Quebec’s prohibition of private insurance.

The Justice Centre launched this case on behalf of Darcy Allen, a dentist who endured debilitating back pain while waiting for surgery in Alberta.  The severe pain forced Dr. Allen to quit his practice.  Dr. Allen endured months of pain on waiting lists before he was informed that his surgery would not be for another 18 months. Dr. Allen’s unbearable pain forced him to have the necessary surgery in Montana at great personal expense.  Despite this, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench denied the application, claiming that the abundant evidence put before the court was somehow insufficient to support applying the Supreme Court’s precedent in Chaoulli.

The Alberta Court of Appeal heard the appeal in April 2015. As the Justice Centre argued, the evidence before the Court of Queen’s Bench was substantially similar to the evidence before the Court in Chaoulli. Just like the evidence in Chaoulli, the evidence in this case, from Dr. Allen and from numerous Alberta government reports, showed that Alberta’s health care system suffers from unreasonable waiting lists, and that patients on these waiting lists suffer physical and psychological harm. The Alberta government’s prohibition on private health insurances creates a virtual monopoly of government over health care, from which suffering patients cannot escape (unless they are very wealthy, or willing to put a second mortgage on the house).  By prohibiting alternatives while failing to provide reasonable and timely health care, Alberta is violating Canadians’ s. 7 Charter rights to life an security of the person, just like Quebec violated s. 7 as the Supreme Court found in Chaoulli.  The Justice Centre demands the Alberta Court of Appeal strike down Alberta’s prohibition on private health insurance.

Read more about Allen v. Alberta