Two-tier “Alberta Chaoulli” goes down to defeat in courts

The so-called “Alberta Chaoulli” challenge to single-tier health care has been defeated in the courts.

The Ultra-Conservative Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom (JCCF) had sponsored two cases in that province that suggested Canada’s single tier health system represented a monopoly that deprived the plaintives of life, liberty and security of the person.

The two cases both involved Albertans who paid for treatment in the United States rather than wait for timely care in their home province.

In the first case involving a Calgary businessman, the issue became not one of delay but whether doctors felt the treatment he sought was an option for treating his back pain.

The second case involving Alberta dentist Dr. Darcy Allen failed to offer any proof that more timely care would have been accessible had two-tier private insurance been available.

Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice P.R. Kelly noted in the March 31 ruling that “a vast array of alternative possibilities come to mind for the added wait times in Alberta that may have nothing to do with prohibition (on private insurance): under-funding, mis-management, shortage of qualified practitioners, disproportionate incidence of this particular condition at relevant times, unexpected population increases or merely differences in population concentrations and distribution, to name a few.”

“The added time Dr. Allen would have waited for his surgery in Alberta may have been no different in the absence of the prohibition,” writes Justice Jeffrey.

Former Ontario Taxpayers Federation lawyer John Carpay tried to use the Quebec Chaoulli decision as the basis of the challenge, but the justice again highlighted the lack of applicability.

“The divided court in Chaoulli was very careful to not have its collective decision be taken as precedent for anything beyond its immediate Quebec context,” stated Jeffrey.

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Act specifically prohibits private insurance for publicly covered health services.

The right-wing JCCF is just one of many institutes operating in Canada using source funding the Donner Canadian Foundation. The BC Teacher’s Federation notes that Donner is “a key organization in the project to change the ideological fabric of Canadian society. It is known as paymaster to the right, and it’s safe to say that the reactionary right would have made little headway in Canada in the past decade without Donner’s backing. Stephen Harper would be a nobody, for instance.”

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