Clinic owner Dr. Adrian Edgar claims that the government is breaking the law by failing to pay for his clients’ abortions. His proposed lawsuit is based on the inaccurate claim that the New Brunswick government is breaching the Canada Health Act. This is not a sound legal argument. It is the provinces who have full jurisdiction to regulate and fund health care – not the federal government.
The Canada Health Act was passed in 1985 as a vehicle for the federal government to help provinces with additional health care funding, but not at the expense of provincial jurisdiction over administering health care. The purpose of the federal government’s involvement was never to make every province’s health care plan the same, but to help foot the bill to ensure that some basics are covered across the country. Many aspects of health care, from dentistry to mental health care to physiotherapy, are not covered.
Abortion is an elective procedure and need not be funded by provinces. All provinces fund abortions in hospitals, New Brunswick included, but New Brunswick has never funded abortions done in private abortion clinics. They have still always received full financial assistance from the federal government for health care because they are compliant with the Canada Health Act.
It is not New Brunswick’s health care needs that are causing this clinic to continue the fight, and it is not the people of New Brunswick calling for the funding. It is Clinic 554’s ideological focus and their bottom line at stake. The case is being made by a man directly set to profit from any additional funding. Clinic 554 has been in this position of threatening to close before, but carried on when their demands were not met. After failing again to get Premier Higgs to fund their business, they turned to the federal government to exert pressure, and now threaten to turn to the courts.
Federal government interference in this matter would be overreach – and Premier Higgs has rightly spoken out against that pressure. If the federal government interferes in provincial health care matters when those matters are fully in line with the law and the Canada Health Act, provincial jurisdiction is nothing more than a condescending joke. Our courts should be protecting our constitution, not bending to activist pressure.
Public health care was never intended to cover every single health-related expense a person could incur. Abortion is covered in every Canadian province, including New Brunswick, as is the abortion pill for those who want even easier access and a do-it-yourself approach. A private clinic that threatens the government and does not even report the number of abortions it performs annually should not be prioritized or required when distributing limited health care dollars.