Access to Justice, Access to Care: The Legal Debate over Private Health Insurance
Historically, the Supreme Court of Canada has avoided direct intervention in health care policy-making. This posture changed dramatically with the release of the Chaoulli decision in June 2005. In a narrow four-to-three decision, the Supreme Court struck down Quebec laws prohibiting the sale of private health insurance on the basis that they violate Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Three of the four judges in the majority also found the provisions violate section seven of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In a blistering dissent however, the three judges in the minority found that the insurance restriction violated neither the Quebec nor the Canadian charters. The result makes further Charter challenges to similar laws in other provinces inevitable, but the question of whether they will or should succeed remains contested.