An audit found the Cambie Surgery Centre and an affiliated clinic billed patients for medically insured services

An audit found the Cambie Surgery Centre and an affiliated clinic billed patients for medically insured services

Audit finds private medical clinics illegally billed patients

Operators intend to defy order, fight province in court for right to offer private health care

Two private medical clinics in Vancouver have been ordered to stop extra billing their patients for publicly insured services after a provincial audit found them in breach of the law.

Health Minister Mike De Jong said B.C.’s Medical Services Commission has indicated it will seek a court injunction to enforce compliance if the Cambie Surgery Centre and Specialist Referral Clinic don’t cease and desist within 30 days.

The audit concluded extra billing happened in more than 200 cases totaling nearly $500,000.

The commission independently enforces the Medicare Protection Act, which ensures B.C. clinics operate in line with the Canada Health Act and that medical care is delivered based on need and not a patient’s ability to pay.

“That is the law in British Columbia and we expect every operator to operate within the law,” De Jong told reporters Wednesday.

“The findings today from the medical services commission suggests that in these two instances that has not been occurring.”

Former health minister Kevin Falcon ordered the audit in 2010 after a complaint that the principles of Medicare were being violated.

Dr. Brian Day, president of the two clinics, contends the law is unconstitutional and intends to fight any attempted injunction in court while continuing to operate as usual.

He argues patients should be allowed to pay for-profit clinics to avoid long waits for care in the underfunded public system, freeing up resources there.

“Done properly, opening up our health system to the greater availability to private health care will benefit everyone,” he said. “Canada is the only developed country in the world that denies its citizens that choice.”

Queue-jumping already happens for patients funded by WorkSafeBC or the federal government – including inmates and RCMP officers – and Day argues the broader public should also have the option, in line with a 2005 Supreme Court of Canada decision that struck down Quebec restrictions on private health care.

“Waiting for necessary medical treatment in the monopoly government health care system imposes significant financial, emotional, and physical health burden on British Columbians and their families,” he said.

Day’s clinics are already suing the government, arguing the Medicare Protection Act is unconstitutional and he said individual plaintiffs are joining the case, on grounds they needed immediate care available only through Cambie Surgery Centre.

NDP health critic Mike Farnworth accused the province of being slow and ineffective in cracking down against the clinics.

He also noted the province opted not to give the Medical Services Commission the power to fine violators when it enacted the legislation.

“They don’t have the enforcement powers they were supposed to have,” he said. “The government has slow-walked this whole thing.”

Farnworth said B.C. now risks being fined by Ottawa for failing to comply with the Canada Health Act.

Just Posted

(Photo/Mary-Jean Coyle)
Community Camera for June 11, 2021

Submit your photos to news@ahobserver.com

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

(Adam Louis/Observer)
PHOTOS: Students leap into action in track events at Kent Elementary

At Kent Elementary, when the sun’s outside, the fun’s outside. The intermediate… Continue reading

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Most Read