June 9, 2005

SO FALL THE GATES (via Robert Schwartz and Daniel Merriman):

Supreme Court ruling opens door to private health care, say experts (Dennis Bueckert, June 09, 2005, Canadian Press)

The country's top court has delivered a powerful blow to Canada's single-tier system of public health care, striking down a Quebec law that banned private insurance for medically necessary services. The federal government insisted there's nothing to worry about, but most experts predicted the decision will lead to a parallel private system.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday that the Quebec ban on private insurance violates Quebec's charter of rights.

The Canadian Medical Association called it a "historic" ruling that could "fundamentally change the health-care system in Canada as we now know it."

In Quebec City, interim Parti Quebecois Leader Louise Harel said Quebec's public health system is threatened and she urged Premier Jean Charest to defend it.

But Prime Minister Paul Martin downplayed such concerns.

"We're not going to have a two-tier health-care system in this country," he said.

Of course not, how would you restrict it to just two?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 9, 2005 2:14 PM

More here, at the blog of my favorite Canadian lawblogger.

Posted by: Mike Morley at June 9, 2005 2:17 PM

They already have a 2nd tier that well-to-do Canadians use to get premium health care outside the public system. It's called the United States of America. Seems to be working fine so far.

Posted by: jeff at June 9, 2005 2:55 PM

Drat you, Jeff Mann - that was my comment, too.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at June 9, 2005 3:02 PM

"We're not going to have a two-tier health-care system in this country," he said.

Riiiight...I'll bet Martin and other politicians sit in the same waiting rooms and on the same waiting lists as everybody else....

Posted by: PapayaSF at June 9, 2005 4:04 PM

For those unaware, there are exceptions under the law for those who must wait in line:

1. Members of Parliament

2. Professional athletes

3. Union leaders

4. All prisoners

Maybe others too, but I'm certain of these.

Posted by: obc at June 9, 2005 4:33 PM

now that's perfect, prisoners get preferential medical treatment. absolutely pathological. any nation of sheep that puts up with that deserves what it gets.

Posted by: cjm at June 9, 2005 4:37 PM

The irony(?) is Quebec already has private clinics in defiance of the law, IIRC.

Posted by: Sandy P. at June 9, 2005 5:57 PM

union leaders can opt-out of the health care system reserved for the serfs.

You have to see the Canadian film "Invasion of the Barbarians" for its take on Canadian health-care union leaders. Not a pretty picture.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at June 9, 2005 6:23 PM

You all might be interested to know that the Canadian military maintains a very fine, well-equipped hospital in Ottawa, to which all M.P.'s and senior government bureaucrats and their families have right of access.

Posted by: Peter B at June 9, 2005 7:48 PM