Privatization of Medicine in Canada

Dr. Rishi Verma, MDFeatured, Integrative Medicine, Public Health

September 30, 2016  /  Featured, Integrative Medicine, Public Health

September 30, 2016:


The most contentiously debated topic in health care in Canada right now is the legalization of private medicine services.

Although this issue has been a hot topic for decades, it has become considerably more relevant since the start of the BC Supreme Court case of Dr. Brian Day vs. Medicare in September of 2016.

The Nuts and Bolts of the case

Dr. Day is arguing section 7 of the Canadian Charter, which provides Canadian citizens the right to life, liberty, and security of person. Essentially, Dr. Day’s team is arguing that as Canadian citizens, we deserve the right to choose the style and delivery of health care that we prefer.

Defendants of the Canadian Charter argue that the Canadian Health act, enacted in 1984, states that there should be universal coverage of health care for all Canadians who have insured benefits. According to the health act, if the government offers a medical benefit, then no individual or corporation can charge privately for the same service.

Therefore, the case will determine whether Canadian citizens will have the right to choose between using health services offered by the public system, or from a similar service at a private pay facility.

A different view on the case

There have been many newspaper articles citing details and opinions on the case. I would like to examine the case from the perspective of an integrative medicine physician who has worked in the public medical system for 15 years and the semi-private sector for 7 years.

The whole reason started using integrative medicine was that I felt that the conventional system was offering its citizens a lower standard of care than I wished to deliver.

I never felt that it was acceptable in ANY industry for a client to have to wait for two or more hours for an appointment, and then have that appointment hurried along in an effort to keep the professional on time. Yet, this has become commonplace in the public medical system.

When new clients call our clinic, the most common cited reason is that they are not feeling satisfaction from their current medical model.

I also do not feel it is acceptable to tell a sick person that it will take 6 months to see a specialist, and 6 more months to have a diagnostic test or procedure to help their issue. Meanwhile, there is no possibility of an alternate solution. It is apparent that the huge demands on the public medical system have rendered the system incapable of meeting client needs in a timely fashion.

What if a client desires a different style of medicine?

The section I wish to highlight is the differentiation of styles of medicine that are available today.

Aside from time spent with the doctor in the public sector, the next most common reason that people choose to see our doctors is that we practice a different style of medicine.

We see the body through a slightly different lens than the mainstream doctor. This shifted perspective has enabled us to help thousands of clients over the years.

The existing medical system is built on a model, which diagnoses and treats symptoms and diseases. This model is not designed for health prevention, nor does it adequately assess the millions of people who have symptoms that do not fit into the defined disease categories.

I will leave the arguments regarding the merits of each system to another post, but for the time being, I pose the following question:

Should we not be allowed the freedom to choose the style of medical care that is best suited for our ourselves and our families?

I point to the numerous client inquiries that we receive every day that there is a large percentage of the population who favours a health prevention model over a wait for disease approach. Yet, the public medical system is designed in this specific way. Therefore, we are forced to adopt the disease-based system, as long as we wish to see a medical doctor in Canada.

As a physician, a parent, and conscientious healthy being, I have chosen the health prevention model, and I help like-minded people every day in their similar quest.

Back to our original idea, I will leave you with my final question

If we have the right to value and pay for all other services and commodities that our society offers, should we not have the right to choose the style and delivery of health care that suits our personal beliefs?


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Dr. Rishi Verma, MD

Medical Director
Dr. Verma is one of Vancouver’s most regarded physicians in the field of integrative medicine. He is medical director of a group of six doctors, and is active in teaching doctors how to improve their delivery of health care. He also runs a busy integrative medicine practice with a dedicated group of clients.