Across the country, according to the 2011 edition of the Fraser Institute’s annual survey of wait times, the average interval from the time a patient is referred to a specialist to treatment is now at a record 9.5 weeks, slightly longer than it was in 2005 and more than 40% longer than the 6.7 weeks the institute deems “reasonable.” In only two provinces, Ontario and B.C., are wait times shorter now than they were at the time of Chaoulli. [The 2005 Canadian Supreme Court case that found that extreme delays in healthcare service violated the Canadian constitution.] (In Quebec, they are almost a week longer.) In every province, they are substantially longer than they were in the mid-1990s.
So it’s high time the provinces were brought to account. The principles the court held were valid in Quebec in 2005 are presumably no less valid now; the facts to which they were applied would seem no less present. It is time, in short, for Chaoulli II.
Enter Darcy Allen and Richard Cross, Alberta residents suffering from severe back pain who say they were obliged to seek care in the United States, at their own (considerable) expense, rather than wait the two years or more it would take to treat them in the provincial system. Backed by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, the two men have launched a legal challenge to the province’s ban on private insurance, similar to that in Chaoulli.