September 8, 2020
Private Abortion Clinic 554 has become a much-discussed issue in New Brunswick’s upcoming provincial election. New Brunswick has never funded the abortions performed at this private clinic, but recent activist pressure is calling for that to change. “The push for funding for this private abortion clinic is not coming from the citizens of New Brunswick, but is instigated by the owner of the clinic – a man set to directly profit off any increased funding,” said Tabitha Ewert, legal counsel for pro-life organization We Need a Law.
The owner of Clinic 554 claims to be pursuing a lawsuit against the provincial government under the Canada Health Act, but that piece of legislation is legally irrelevant to this decision. Pro-choice activists like to talk about the Canada Health Act, but it is a federal piece of legislation designed to give financial assistance to the provinces, not to regulate provincial healthcare. The actual administration of healthcare funding is up to the province.
”Healthcare falls under provincial jurisdiction,” Ewert explains, “because provincial governments are in a better position to understand local health concerns and therefore have the responsibility to administer healthcare spending. The question facing New Brunswick is whether to give these privately performed abortions priority over other health needs in the province.”
Ewert notes that the Canada Health Act itself references provincial jurisdiction and it has been consistently held by Canada’s courts to be irrelevant to funding private abortion clinics. New Brunswick is completely within their right to allocate healthcare spending to actual healthcare needs rather than to private abortion clinics.
“When it comes down it, the discussion around Clinic 554 is not primarily about healthcare for New Brunswick, but about spending tax dollars on privately done abortions. Do voters want their money to go to the owner of the Clinic 554, or do they want a government that prioritizes the real healthcare concerns of New Brunswick?” asks Ewert.
We Need a Law has published a Position Paper clarifying the role of the Canada Health Act on the decision to fund private abortion clinics, including references to relevant Canadian court decisions. The paper can be accessed here.