BC Government successfully prevents taxpayers from knowing how much it’s spending fighting against patient rights

CFF Canadian Constitution Foundation

Last week, the BC Supreme Court permitted the province to keep secret from the public how much money it has spent since 2009 fighting against patients suffering on waiting lists who want their government to respect their Charter right to timely treatment. Since 2009, the BC government has been litigating against patient plaintiffs who have suffered as a result of rationed healthcare and who have benefited from services offered by private clinics, like the Cambie Surgery Centre, which have legally operated in BC for more than two decades.

In August of 2017, the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), which is supporting the plaintiffs’ Charter challenge, filed a request under BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), asking the BC government to come clean on just how much taxpayer money it has spent so far fighting to deny patients their right to timely healthcare treatment.

Our request asked the government to disclose:

The cost of litigation… lawyers’ salaries, courtroom and other litigation fees, document production cost and other case-related expenses and disbursements, witness fees and disbursements…and any and all other information assigning any cost to the Government connected in any way to the litigation of the this case… incurred since 2009.
In response, the officials in charge of managing the request prepared a document containing the global figure that we had requested. The BC government then stonewalled us forcing an adjudicator to decide whether BC taxpayers were entitled to know how much of their own money had been spent to date.

On August 15, 2018, the adjudicator from the BC Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) ordered that the CCF’s request must be granted and the financial information made public. The BC government appealed this decision, claiming, among other things, that if the true financial cost of the trial were known by the public, it could be used to embarrass the government.

Last week’s decision protects the BC government from fulfilling the CCF’s request. The CCF’s lawyers and staff continue to review the court’s decision.

CCF Staff Lawyer, Derek From, said:

We are obviously disappointed with this result since we firmly believe in the importance of government transparency, especially in the context of this case where the government is so vigorously opposing patients’ constitutional rights. As a charity, the CCF makes every effort to be frugal with donor resources, and we have spent approximately $7.2 million so far. To me, this decision shows two things: first, the cost of this sort of litigation is far outside the financial means of nearly every Canadian; and second, the BC government—which has no real financial constraints on its use of taxpayers’ resources—has likely spent far more than the CCF just to block patients from accessing timely healthcare.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation (“Freedom’s Defence Team”) is a registered charity, independent and non-partisan, whose mission is to defend the constitutional freedoms of Canadians through education, communication and litigation.

Link to article

Original press release


About the BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society

‘In Their Name’ is the campaign of ‘The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’ – a BC registered non-profit organization comprised of volunteer families who have lost a loved one to wrongful death in BC and were denied access to justice. In response to the biggest human rights issue facing the province today, our goal is to modernize British Columbia’s antiquated wrongful death legislation, which predates confederation (1846). Under current legislation, the value of a human life is measured only by the deceased’s future lost income, so long as they had dependents.

As a result of the province’s antiquated law, access to justice has been denied to the families of the wrongfully killed who do not meet this discriminatory criteria. This has affected especially vulnerable groups, namely children, seniors, the disabled, and anyone without dependents when they are killed by the negligent or intentional acts of another.

BC is presently the last of all the provinces, yet to have undertaken this critical legislative modernization to allow for dignity, value, and protections for all its citizens under the law.

When it’s ‘free’ to kill in BC, wrongdoers are not held accountable. This lack of general deterrence holds the province back in terms of incentivizing innovation of safety measures and protocols to prevent wrongful deaths in the first place.

Here’s How You Can Get Involved…

The Premier of British Columbia, David Eby, is responsible for the modernization of BC’s wrongful death laws. Our Society provided David Eby with the drafted ‘Wrongful Death Accountability Act’ when he was acting as the Attorney General for British Columbia for 6 years between 2017-2022. The new Attorney General, Niki Sharma, also shares responsibility as she is the Minister responsible for the ‘Family Compensation Act’ – the current guiding piece of legislation that the civil courts must follow in cases of wrongful death. Minister Sharma receives feedback from the regional ‘Members of the Legislative Assembly’ (MLAs) and follows orders from the Premier, David Eby, who is ultimately responsible for modernization.

Reform is presently at a standstill, as the BC NDP government does not presently view access to justice for the surviving family members of the wrongfully killed as a priority in this province. This is despite the fact that the families behind our Society have been fighting for modernization for over two decades. And despite the fact that all other provinces, including the Yukon, have already modernized in most cases long ago.

The only way to move this forward is by creating massive public awareness and outcry for legislative modernization. Only under the scrutiny of the public and the media will our politicians be forced to take this necessary, and long overdue action.

How many more people will need to die from the same preventable wrongful actions before our politicians will do their job?

#1 Kindly consider supporting the public awareness advertising efforts of our volunteer led Society by Donating Now »

#2 In less than 30 seconds, with our automated tool you can Petition Your Local MLA »

#3 Share this story with friends and family on social media.

#4 Follow us on social media to stay updated: FacebookTwitterLinkedin, Instagram

We appreciate your support at this critical time!

Fundraise or Donate »