Parliament needs to ensure it respects provincial jurisdiction over health care administration when considering the private abortion clinic in New Brunswick. Deputy Prime Minister Freeland has indicated the government will announce plans to ensure funding for this Clinic 554 in Fredericton. Health care, however, is under the jurisdiction of the provinces and the federal government must not interfere.
“Canada’s constitution outlines the division of powers between the federal government and the provincial governments,” said Tabitha Ewert, Legal Counsel for We Need a Law a national campaign dedicated to advocating for legal restrictions on abortion. “Health care is under the provinces’ jurisdiction. A lot of the confusion on this issue comes from a misunderstanding of what the Canada Health Act does.”
Ewert explained, “The Canada Health Act was passed in the 1980’s as a vehicle for the federal government to assist provinces with health care costs. It was never meant to usurp provincial government’s ability to administer health care as that would be unconstitutional. Rather, it outlines basic principles that guide funding while still respecting that provincial governments are in the best position to address the health care needs of their residents and have the ability to customize their health care plans accordingly.”
This is affirmed by Health Canada which says in their report, “[i]t is up to the provincial and territorial health insurance plans, in consultation with their respective physician colleges or groups, to determine which services are medically necessary for health insurance purposes.”
Ewert concluded, “The Canada Health Act was not designed to dictate to the provinces what they should or should not fund. There are many medically necessary services that are not covered by public funding, such as dentistry, psychiatry, and optometry. There is no reason abortions performed at a private clinic should be given special consideration.”