As the Minister of Health, Victor Boudreau is responsible for ensuring that the plans, priorities and actions of New Brunswick health care providers are consistent, inclusive and equitable. His statements to the press should, at the very least, reflect an understanding of what health care needs exist in the province. Instead, his statement in the Telegraph-Journal on July 16th is an example of ignorance and transphobia. It also betrays his government’s stated purpose of removing barriers to abortion access.
Gender dysphoria should not be described as a “type of request” that doctors can dismiss or refuse to treat because of their personal beliefs. Gender dysphoria is a medically recognized syndrome that is easily treatable. The treatment is necessary for the health of many people in New Brunswick, yet it is difficult to access. Minister Boudreau’s statement permits and even encourages barriers to access. Moreover, his support for discriminatory practices perpetuates intolerance in society, which contributes directly to the high rate of suicide attempts among transgender people. This is a critical issue that needs immediate attention and greater effort on the part of the Health Minister, as well as the rest of the medical community.
While Minister Boudreau cannot force doctors to provide abortions or to treat gender dysphoria, he should be troubled that physicians in this province would refuse essential health care to any citizen. We ask him, what does he plan to do for the people of New Brunswick who are unable to access basic health care due to discrimination?
We hope that the Minister will publicly apologize for his discriminatory statement and make a concerted effort to become better informed by meeting with organizations that represent the health care needs of vulnerable populations. At the very least, he should inform himself of health care standards in the rest of Canada and make it clear that he expects physicians in New Brunswick to perform to a similar standard. Statements from government should promote the health and well-being of the entire province, not simply the interests of a privileged pressure group.
The letter above was sent to Health Minister Victor Boudreau by Reproductive Justice NB on July 21, 2015.