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Posts Tagged "Lawyer"

18Jul

Ian Mulgrew: Medicare expert, lawyer spar to end landmark trial

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The B.C. Government’s defence in the landmark three-year-old Medicare constitutional trial in B. C. Supreme Court is ending not with a bang but a testy, two-day courtroom sparring match involving one of its experts.

Dr. Gordon Guyatt gave as good as he got, repulsing a prolonged assault on his objectivity and left the stand Thursday having provided some last-minute fireworks but seemingly little insight on the key issue — wait-lists and the effects of constraints on access to private care in the provincial Medicare Protection Act.

“My perception is that there’s been a fluctuation of concerns with waiting lists and that governments have, to an extent, addressed things,” he said.

“Things can always get better … you have tensions — constant tensions — in every health care system in the world, and problems will never be solved.”

A specialist in internal medicine and, for almost 35 years, a health researcher at McMaster University, the argumentative Guyatt was assailed as more of an ideological warrior than a disinterested expert.

Robert Grant, lawyer for the two clinics and handful of patients behind the legal challenge over barriers to access to private care, portrayed Guyatt as a virulent opponent of the private clinics and Dr. Brian Day, the driving force behind the decade-old litigation.

Noting he had a duty to be impartial, Guyatt bristled at the broadsides aimed at impeaching his credibility.

“Given my, given that commitment, I do not see personally as relevant further pursuit of my opinions about issues beyond the issues that I’ve been asked to comment on in my deposition,” he complained.

“Thank you for that,” Justice John Steeves said. “In the meantime, just answer his questions.”

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Government lawyers vainly tried to halt the brutal cross-examination that battered Guyatt’s neutrality.

A self-described left winger who ran repeatedly as an NDP candidate, Guyatt has been a social activist for 40 years.

In 1979 he co-founded the Ontario-based Medical Reform Group, which disbanded in 2014 and was replaced by the Canadian Doctors for Medicare, which he joined.

He was also a director of the Ontario Health Coalition, an activist network, that along with its sister group the B.C. Health Coalition, is a member of the Canadian Health Coalition.

Doctors for Medicare and the B.C. coalition, under the banner of B.C. Friends of Medicare Society, have intervened in the challenge to support the government case.

Grant accused the groups of wrongly asserting Day seeks “U.S.-style health care for Canada, where people go bankrupt, lose their homes and life savings, or worse, because they can’t afford treatment when they need it.”

The B.C. coalition, he said, incorrectly claimed Day wanted a system where “international private insurance corporations run the show and patients foot the bill.”

Grant said the groups were fearmongering.

“It is an overstatement that this case could bring down single-tier Medicare,” Guyatt agreed, adding he also did not endorse the portrayal of Day and his supporters as “greedy, awful people.”

He maintained he was too busy to keep up with everything the groups did,  and distanced himself from the inflammatory rhetoric.

“The way I would put it is that we were advocates for equitable high-quality health care accessible to people without financial obstacles,” he said.

“So, specifically, as I have said previously, I believe that it is more appropriate to base care on the need — the medical need than on ability to pay — and I would like to work, continue to work, in a system where the patients I treat are treated on the basis of need rather than ability to pay.
”

“I understand,” Grant replied.

“But the point (of the trial) isn’t about what you want to do in your own practice; it’s whether or not increased private health care, and specifically private-pay surgeries, will be permitted or not. And you are opposed to increased private-pay surgeries. Isn’t that right?
”

“Yes,” Guyatt confirmed.

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Grant insisted Guyatt was a vocal opponent of Day within the Canadian Medical Association, seeing him as a “tragic choice” and “a complete disaster” as the organization’s president.

“I don’t recall active involvement in that matter,” Guyatt said, but again added such comments would be “hyperbolic.”

The Ontario specialist attacked the concept of using “benchmarks” to measure surgical waiting times — saying “not much” research has been conducted to establish what is acceptable and he suggested they were undependable tools set by “good old boys sitting around the table.”

But Guyatt has long minimized waiting lists and their ill effects — calling them “a problem that may be much smaller than we imagine” in 2004.

And he acknowledged he was not familiar with the circumstances in B.C.

“Certainly not in detail …. I do not know the details of the extent of waiting lists currently. I am sure that waiting lists remain a problem. … and that they’re not optimal … I do not know well enough to know whether it would be appropriate to characterize them as a serious problem or not.
”

The final witness John Frank, an expert on social determinants of health, took the stand later on July 18 and was to finish July 19 — day 179 of the proceedings.

“When this trial began I thought it would last up to 18 weeks (three times longer than the similar Chaoulli case in Que.),” said Day, founder of the private Cambie Surgery Centre.

“I am happy that — almost 3 years later — the witness phase is over. I am confident that the justice system will eventually grant all Canadians the same rights to protect their health that the Supreme Court of Canada granted to citizens of Que., and that the citizens of every other country in the world enjoy.”

Justice Steeves plans to hear final arguments this fall and begin deliberations in December.

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13Jun

Security measures have made Anita Place feel like a prison: lawyer | CBC News

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Lawyers representing occupants of the Anita Place homeless camp in Maple Ridge are back in B.C. Supreme Court in an effort to get a judge to clarify an injunction order from February.

Advocates for the camp occupants — which now number as few as seven, when there were once almost 200 — claim the security imposed on the camp by the City of Maple Ridge is excessive, and restrictions put the occupants at risk.

“It’s fenced entirely all around, it’s surrounded by security guards at all times, the number of security guards often outnumbers the number of homeless people inside, there’s a security camera,” said Anna Cooper, a staff lawyer with Pivot Legal Society.

Cooper described Anita Place as feeling like a medium-security prison.

She said the injunction ordered Feb. 8 gave Maple Ridge officials powers to ensure fire safety and to assist people to move into housing.

“What we have seen happen instead is that since that order was granted, the city has taken a number of actions which have effectively closed camp and blocked people from visiting and blocked people from accessing harm reduction on that site,” said Cooper.

According to Cooper, the goal of the application before the court is to show the judge what has happened since the injunction was ordered, in the hope that he’ll allow people to return to Anita Place to live, as well as allowing visitors.

‘It’s like a refugee camp down there’

One of the few people still living at Anita Place is Dwayne Martin. He has built a two-storey cabin at the site.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s like a refugee camp down there,” said Martin. “I’ve gotta get my bags checked. I can’t have any visitors.”

Dwayne Martin was at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Wednesday, as lawyers argued that Maple Ridge officials have been taking an injunction order agains the Anita Place camp too far. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

“It’s not right what they’re doing and I’ve got no problem fighting,” he said, adding that he plans to build additional floors onto his cabin.

Meanwhile, Eva Bardonnex, who lived at Anita Place until she moved into modular housing November, said the fact that there are only about seven people living at the camp isn’t due to the fact that people have found proper housing — they’ve just found other places to camp.

“Those people didn’t go and get homes, a lot of them are in the bush,” said Bardonnex, who does peer support work. “They’re back in the bush, there’s another camp that’s set up — we’re not going to say where, but there’s another camp that’s actually set up. They’re still there. They’re still homeless.”

Jeffrey Locke, the lawyer representing Maple Ridge, argued in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday that searching camp occupants’ bags is no different than searching bags of people entering a stadium for a sports event.

He told the judge that the practice is “to strengthen the efficacy of your lordship’s order.”

Locke said outside the courtroom that he plans to show the court that the injunction order has successfully made the property safer. He hopes to have the application thrown out.

The court proceedings continue through Thursday.


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4Jun

Lawyer sparks workplace discrimination debate over Kamloops’ new Teenie Bikini Bistro | CBC News

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The recent opening of the Teenie Bikini Bistro in Kamloops, B.C., has an employment lawyer concerned about workplace discrimination but the restaurant’s co-owner maintains it’s nothing to worry about.

The bistro features pub-style food served by women wearing bikinis. Kelowna lawyer David Brown with Kent Employment Law says it’s disconcerting.

“I was surprised that this continues to be prevalent in this day and age … I kind of started thinking about the legal implications of this kind of a business plan,” Brown told Chris Walker, host of Daybreak South.

Hiring process 

Brown cites the B.C. Human Rights Code, which prevents discrimination in the workplace on a number of different grounds including gender, sexual orientation and disability. He is concerned that the Teenie Bikini Bistro’s hiring practices may be discriminatory toward men, older workers or workers with disabilities, among others.

Bistro co-owner Leeann Mcarthur says it’s simply not the case. She says she has no specific hiring process, nor is it mandatory that those applying look a certain way or even be female. 

“We have all shapes and sizes here. Most of us have stretch marks,” said Mcarthur.

“I’ve got four kids. I’ve got stretch marks. I’m wearing a bikini right now. And you know, I’m confident enough to do it and it doesn’t bother me.”

While Mcarthur has not had any men apply for serving positions at the restaurant yet, she says that as with women, she would hire men if they applied and were solid candidates.

Brown says that legally, imposing a dress code which has the potential to violate or create a different working environment on either the worker or on those workers who don’t conform to that model is problematic. 

But Mcarthur says she doesn’t force her waitresses to wear bikinis. They can work in whatever attire they choose.

“If the girl is confident enough, I don’t care what she looks like. If she’s willing to wear a bathing suit or bikini or she’s comfortable in shorts … whatever she’s comfortable in, wear it.”

Sexual harassment 

Brown says that while the women who work at places like Teenie Bikini Bistro may consent to wearing a bikini, they do not necessarily consent to some of the sexual harassment that might happen within the workplace such as crude jokes, unwanted touching or catcalls.

“It raises concerns about challenges toward the women who are serving the floors,” said Brown.

Mcarthur says sexual harassment is an unfortunate reality of the restaurant industry in general.

“You get that no matter what kind of job you’re working,” she said. “Honestly, I think the men are a little more cautious here,” she said of the restaurant’s patrons. 

Health and safety

Brown also has concerns surrounding health and safety in the workplace.

“Are these servers going to be safe serving hot foods? … there’s a potential here for a personal injury by burning on their midriff or something like that,” said Brown.

For Mcarthur, the Teenie Bikini Bistro is no different then much larger businesses such as sports or cocktail bars.

“The lounges I’ve been to in Kamloops, those girls are pretty much wearing next to nothing. Are they safe serving hot food?” Mcarthur said, explaining that opening her restaurant was a smooth process.

“With health and safety, if it wasn’t OK, we wouldn’t have gotten our licence.”

Listen to the full interview with David Brown here

A new restaurant in Kamloops has caught the eye of a Kelowna employment lawyer, who says the business’s hiring practices and dress code could be considered discriminatory and increase the potential for sexual harassment. 6:00

With files by Daybreak South


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