On Thursday, October 17, 2013, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms appeared before the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench on behalf of Alberta dentist Darcy Allen who launched a constitutional challenge to the Alberta Government’s health care monopoly.
Case Background: Allen
In 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Chaoulli v. Quebec that Quebec’s ban on private health insurance violates the right to “life, liberty and security of the person” set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Declaring that “access to a waiting list is not access to health care,” a majority of the Court held that the ban on private health insurance – which causes Canadians to suffer and die on waiting lists – is neither necessary nor justified.
Thousands of Canadians suffer in pain while waiting for surgery or diagnosis. Some die. The Chaoulli judgment explained how this suffering is caused by the government’s “virtual monopoly” over health care.
Hundreds of Albertans are alive today because they took charge of their health and escaped the waits to which patients are routinely subjected inside the government’s health-care monopoly. Obtaining a timely diagnosis of their cancers or other conditions allowed these Albertans to decrease their suffering, prevent permanent damage to their health, and even save their lives. These Albertans did not jump to the front of the queue. They left the queue.
The October 17th hearing is the first time that a court outside Quebec heard an application to extend this landmark Supreme Court decision to another Canadian province, specifically Alberta.
Calgary lawyer and Justice Centre President John Carpay advocated for the constitutional right to access health care outside of the government’s monopoly – a monopoly to which Albertans are confined by law.
Dr. Allen was forced to stop practising dentistry due to debilitating back pain. Unable to work, unable to enjoy life and unwilling to face another 18 months of pain, Dr. Allen paid $77,503 out of pocket for back surgery in Montana in December, 2009.
Extending the Chaoulli judgment to Alberta would push Canada toward securing the right to life, liberty and security of the person for all Canadians.