In November 2015, the British Columbia Supreme Court is scheduled to hear an unprecedented constitutional challenge to Canada’s public health care system. This is not the first or only Charter challenge to provincial and federal medicare laws. However, it poses the most serious threat to the principles of equality and universality that Canada’s public health care system is built upon.
This paper takes a brief look at recent attempts by private sector advocates to challenge the right to universal public health care in the courts, with a focus on the current Charter challenge before the B.C. Supreme Court. It reviews the national and international evidence on the role of for-profit providers and payers in efforts to reduce wait times. And it looks at the potential impact a successful bid could have on Canada’s most valued and cherished public program: health care.