Canadian unions fight to support their single payer health care system they call Medicare

by Kay Tillow

Originally published on

Canada’s unions applaud the decision by the British Columbia Supreme Court to uphold the integrity of the country’s single-payer health care system.

“The Cambie Surgeries Centre case put Canada’s public medicare system on trial and threatened the principle of universal and equal access to health care,” stated the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), the largest labor organization in Canada.

“The court’s decision to reject the arguments made by Dr. Brian Day is a significant blow to those who would push for profit-driven care in this country,” the CLC said.

When Canadians won their universal single payer health care system with the passage of the Medical Care Act in 1966, those who wanted to privatize health care did not end their efforts.

A few month ago in a decade long case, Justice John Steeves of the BC Supreme ruled against the privatizers upholding “the objectives of preserving and ensuring the sustainability of the universal public healthcare system and ensuring access to necessary medical services is based on need and not the ability to pay.”

Canadian unions celebrated the victory.

“Looking at what’s happening in the United States, this pandemic has demonstrated how important Canada’s public health care system is and how devastating private, for-profit care can be,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “Now is the time to be investing in a health care system that serves us all. Two-tier health care is simply un-Canadian.”

Canada’s unions congratulated the BC Health Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare who were intervenors in this case.

“We know the fight to protect public health care won’t end here, but the Cambie decision is an important victory that adds strength to the case that the Canada Health Act allows no leeway for profit over patients,” said Yussuff. “If we’re going to improve the health care system, we have to focus on improving it for everyone, not just for the people with the ability to pay.”