Media Releases

Supreme Court Ruling in the Chaoulli Case – Private Health-Care Can Now Benefit Canadians

Montreal, June 9, 2005 – The Supreme Court decision to remove restrictions on paying directly for hospital services and purchasing private health insurance for medical services offered by the public system will guarantee freedom of choice for patients and improve the quality and accessibility of care, according to the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI).

“The case brought before the Supreme Court by Dr. Jacques Chaoulli opens the door to some promising reforms to the Canadian health care system, which has deteriorated in recent years,” said MEI Executive Vice President Maxime Bernier. “Access to care has been reduced, and the government is increasingly incapable of addressing the chronic underfunding that plagues the system. The introduction of new private funding will certainly benefit the network.”

The MEI has long championed the idea that a parallel private system would not threaten the existence and vitality of the public system. Giving people the opportunity to pay for unused health resources will ensure a better distribution of available resources and ultimately an increase in the total amount of care available. Those using private resources would be removed from public system waiting lists, reducing overall delays across the network.

This Supreme Court decision supports MEI findings regarding the need for greater freedom for patients, insurers and health-care providers. “Allowing people to use their own resources to compensate where the state is found lacking only makes sense, because the government can’t meet all health care needs,” Mr. Bernier said.

With this ruling, Canada will no longer be one of the last countries in the world with a public monopoly, moving into step with most other members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) where a universal public system works hand in hand with a private system. OECD countries such as Sweden, which was the subject of an MEI study, have a public system comparable to Canada’s that spends less on health care while offering better access to medical services.

In April 2003, the Montreal Economic Institute launched the only publicly available study that clearly explains the judicial context of health reforms. More recently, the Institute published an edition of Le Point focusing on the legality of private clinics and an Economic Note on health care funding. All these documents are available from the MEI Web site.

– 30 –

Information and interview requests: Patrick Leblanc, Director of Communications, MEI, Tel.: (514) 273-0969 / Cell: (514) 347-4006 / E-mail: pleblanc@iedm.org

Back to top