Abortion Access Across Canada Remains Unequal, New Report Shows

A new report released today highlights the major barriers facing people seeking abortions in Canada and shows the significant gaps in access to abortion in different provinces and territories.

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, a charitable organization committed to advancing and upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights, released the newly updated Access at a Glance report which illustrates the discrepancies in access to abortion across the country.

The report shows significant disparities between urban and rural communities. In some provinces like Alberta and Manitoba, abortion providers exist only in urban centres, despite 35 to 40 percent of the population living in rural or remote communities.

Many people seeking care are forced to travel out of province – or even out of the country – to access an abortion beyond 12 weeks. While abortions after 20 weeks are statistically very rare, people who need to access abortion beyond 20 weeks for serious and important reasons can only find three service providers across the whole country, in British Columbia, Southern Ontario, and Quebec. The report also shows additional barriers that young people and people from marginalized communities can face, such as systemic discrimination within health care systems.

“For many people in Canada, travelling thousands of kilometres or provinces away to access critical and time-sensitive health care services is impossible,” said Sandeep Prasad, Executive Director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights. “Access to health care shouldn’t depend on your postal code or income bracket, but when it comes to surgical and medical abortion, that’s often the case.”  

In some provinces, the barriers are compounded by government inaction and restriction. In New Brunswick, the provincial government continues to refuse to pay for abortion services that take place outside of hospital settings, in direct contravention of the Canada Health Act, which requires that all medically necessary services be cost covered under provincial health insurance.

“Governments across Canada must work to resolve the issue of unequal access to abortion by working to integrate abortion care into primary health care networks, eliminating barriers for marginalized peoples, and ensuring that there is full cost coverage for essential health care services,” said Prasad.

“This is a matter of human rights for the hundreds of thousands of people across the country who can’t access the reproductive health care services they need.” 

The full report is available at actioncanadashr.org.


Laura Neidhart
Director of Communications (interim)
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
613-241-4474 ext 7


Posted on 2019-09-23
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