Time is up on abortion care in New Brunswick – NB Media Co-op
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs is in Victoria, B.C., Monday and Tuesday for the annual meeting of Canadian premiers. There, Premiers should push Canada to increase health transfers to provinces and territories. Last week, Higgs tweeted a graphic with the words: “Time is up: while we wait in Ottawa people are waiting for health care.
— Blaine Higgs (@firstbhiggs) July 4, 2022
Make no mistake: Higgs is not the healthcare champion we need. The Higgs government is one of many examples of why we need conditional health transfers.
Never mind that Canada is pouring millions or billions of dollars more into health care in New Brunswick while the province continues to systematically deny health care to segments of our population. Canada should increase health transfers to the provinces, but it must also force New Brunswick to follow the Canada Health Act and making lifesaving health care, including abortion care, accessible in the province.
Higgs and every Conservative and Liberal prime minister since Frank McKenna in the 90s have refused to repeal the misogynist settlement in New Brunswick Medical Services Payment Act that limits Medicare-funded abortions to hospital settings.
Here we are, 20 years later, in 2022, and the sole abortion provider in New Brunswick’s capital, Clinic 554, has been forced to sell its building and curtail its services. Only two cities in the province, Moncton and Bathurst, offer medicare-funded abortion services. These hospitals refer those seeking term abortions to Clinic 554 where patients must pay $850 for a term abortion.
— Save Clinic 554 / Save Clinic 554 (@SaveClinic554) July 9, 2022
To be clear, funding abortions at Clinic 554 does not support private health care. This red herring has been used by both Conservative and Liberal politicians. These privatization-loving politicians have contracted out health care services to for-profit providers, primarily Medavie, for years. Now they have the audacity to falsely use this argument to deny funding for a health care service in a doctor’s office when other services provided in that doctor’s office are funded by Medicare. The only answer to the question, why abortions aren’t covered by Medicare, is misogyny.
On Saturday, more than 100 people gathered at a solidarity rally for abortion and 2SLGTQIA+ rights in front of the Legislature in Fredericton. There, Jennifer Stairs, executive director of the New Brunswick NDP, gave a fiery speech, expressing her frustration that accessible abortion care was still an issue.
Stairs told the audience that she worked in the office of former NDP leader Elizabeth Weir in the 1990s when then-Premier Frank McKenna tried to stop the clinic from opening Morgentaler in Fredericton. The McKenna government did this by adding Schedule 2.a.1 to Regulation 84.20 of the Medical Payment Services Act which limits abortion services to hospitals.
Today, Higgs, New Brunswick’s self-proclaimed anti-choice premier, continues to restrict abortion services by failing to remove this regulation, forcing a lawsuit against the province for violating the Canada Health Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, namely the rights to liberty, security, privacy and equality.
Higgs will likely be on social media and in the news in the coming days, saying he wants more money from the federal government for health care to fund more doctors, more health care workers, health services. mental health and long-term care. We also want all of these things, but we also want accessible and comprehensive reproductive health care. We want systematic oppression in all its forms eliminated from our health care system.
Tweet Higgs: tell him the time is up for New Brunswick to provide reproductive health care. #Axis8420 #councilofthefederation #canadasprime ministers
Tracy Glynn is an organizer for Reproductive Justice NB and editor of the NB Media Co-op.