Trial of the (Canadian) Century

(cross-posted on my blog)

Tomorrow, at 9:45 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, the Supreme Court of Canada will rule in the case of Chaoulli and Zeliotis v. Government of Canada. Amongst possible rulings is that the prohibition on private care in Canada contravenes section 7 Charter guarantees to life, liberty, and security of the person.

That is, if Canadians have to wait so long for care--which they do--then their security of the person is violated. They should be free to pursue a private option within Canada should the government prove to be incapable of providing timely care in gov-run hospitals.

In anticipation of the ruling, I'm posting my conversation with Jacques Chaoulli for the Western Standard cover story entitled "Freedom Fighter." You can listen to it by clicking here (it's a WAV file). I do sound like a bit of an idiot in there at parts, but I guess that's forgivable...

The newsmedia is somewhat silent on this issue the day before the ruling. My Google News Alert provides me with three links:
Medicare Future at Stake (National Post)
Medicare's Future on the line (Alaska Highway News)
The Montreal Economic Institute made its presence to the media known in a press release.

Silence before the storm?

And here, for your background reading, are a few links to keep you busy:

WS: Freedom Fighter (2004/10/11)
NY Times: A challenger to Canada's Health Care (2005/05/22)
CBC: Top court to hear private health-care challenge. (2003/05/08)
SC Press release: Case heard before Supreme Court (2004/06/08)
Margaret Wente: The dangerous ideas of Dr. Jacques Chaoulli. (2004/06/08)


  1. Pete, tell us Brits more about this. What exactly is it that is illegal in Canada? I followed up your links but couldn't work it out.

  2. Hey Julius -

    You bet. In 1984, Canada passed the Canada Health Act, which included principles all health care services had to follow. One of those was Public Administration. The '84 Canada Health Act was on top of the pre-existing Insurance Act, which socialized health insurance.

    What was illegal was private health insurance, and medical service run for profit (private hospitals). This did not cover optometry, dentistry, or cosmetic surgery--all of these were legal in a private fashion in Canada.

    The interesting thing is that our constitution makes health care a provincical jurisdiction. The Canada Health Act was a federal Act. It did not 'ban' private hospitals and these things by law, what it did, however, is link federal transfer payments for health and social spending to adherence to the Canada Health Act. The provinces chose to secure this transfer by banning private hospitals (with a few exceptions), and eliminating private insurance.

    Is that clear?


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