Appeal decision in Skinner (medical cannabis coverage case) disappoints community, but the fight is not over.
Decision re-ignites focus on urgent affordability challenges facing patients like Gordon Wayne Skinner.
April 12, 2018 – Halifax, NS – Today, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal released a decision in Canadian Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Fund v. Skinner (“Skinner”) overturning the Nova Scotia Human Rights Tribunal’s original decision that denial of medical cannabis coverage constituted discrimination. The Tribunal had previously ordered the Welfare Fund/Union to cover the costs of medical cannabis under their benefits plan.
Gordon Wayne Skinner was involved in a motor vehicle accident while on the job. He suffers from extreme pain and liver disease, resulting in devastating financial hardship. His doctor recommended medical cannabis and asked his union to cover the costs, just as they had done for his previous medications (including opioids) which didn’t work and had extreme side effects. The union not only denied his request, but they have continued to fight the case and exhaust legal resources instead of caring for the person they are purported to represent.
Gordon and his family aren’t alone in their plight. 60% of Canadians who are prescribed medical cannabis cannot afford the dose their doctor recommends. Families like Mr. Skinner’s are being forced to make unfathomable choices – food and electricity versus medication.
Yet, some unions don’t think it’s necessary to fully consider the ramifications of denying medical cannabis coverage. At the same time, the federal government is moving towards applying a sin tax on medical cannabis. These types of short-sighted policies are hurting sick Canadians.
“CFAMM is actively exploring all options to continue supporting Mr. Skinner’s case” said James O’Hara, President and CEO of CFAMM. “Affordability of medical cannabis is our priority. We will continue to strongly advocate on all fronts – we will not back down.”
“This decision is devastating. My own union is doing everything they can to deny coverage to the only medication that works for me, while myself and my family are left to suffer” said Gordon Wayne Skinner. “I am very thankful for the support of CFAMM and Aurora Cannabis thus far and feel assured that the medical cannabis community is fully behind me as we consider potential remedies.”
The full decision can be found here: http://www.courts.ns.ca/Decisions_Of_Courts/documents/2018nsca31.pdf
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