No one—including Andrew Scheer or any member of his caucus—has the authority to dictate to women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies. While some Conservative MPs are trying to reopen that debate by, for example, screening anti-choice films or speaking at anti-choice events, women in Canada have the right to make their own health decisions.
Protecting and defending a woman’s right to choose is a core Liberal value, and our party will always stand up for it. We believe that every Canadian woman deserves safe, consistent access to a full range of reproductive health services - no matter where in our country she lives or how much money she makes. We recognize that women in rural and remote areas, particularly Indigenous women, face disproportionate barriers to these services. That’s why we’ve taken multiple steps to expand access to Mifegymiso, which makes a major difference for many women, particularly those who have difficulties getting a surgical abortion.
This has involved several steps, including easing dispensing requirements in 2017 and removing the requirement for women to get an Ultrasound earlier this year - which was preventing many women from being prescribed Mifegymiso. We recognize that the unwillingness of some physicians to prescribe Mifegymiso is another major barrier faced by women - Minister Petitpas Taylor recently wrote to all of her provincial counterparts to address this issue and pledged to work together to resolve it. Our efforts to expand access to Mifegymiso have dovetailed with provinces adding coverage to their plans, and we’re very pleased that all ten provinces now cover it.
We will also move forward and work with provinces and territories to make sure that sexual
and reproductive health medications are covered under the Liberal national pharmacare plan.
It’s clear that New Brunswick is violating the Canada Health Act (CHA) by forcing patients to pay out-of-pocket for abortion services performed outside of hospitals. The Prime Minister himself has been clear that this situation is unacceptable, and our Liberal government has taken multiple steps to address it. The CHA stipulates that any extra-billing or user charges by provinces will result in deductions from their Canada Health Transfer (CHT) payments - as a result we’ve made several deductions from New Brunswick’s transfers in recent years. We’ve also expressed concern to the New Brunswick government on multiple occasions - most recently in a letter reiterating that these charges violate federal law, as well as earlier this year at a one-on-one meeting between Minister Petitpas Taylor and NB Health Minister Ted Flemming.
Liberals believe that all Canadian women deserve access to factual, clear and unbiased information and other resources about reproductive health. Over the past four years, we’ve ensured that Health Canada is providing such information, and also supported organizations that help provide it. Questions surrounding what is and isn’t covered by provincial insurance plans is an important topic on which misinformation is often spread. This is one of the reasons why Minister Petitpas Taylor recently wrote to all of her provincial colleagues to remind them of their obligation under the Canada Health Act to cover abortion and a full range of reproductive health services.
Sexual Health Education
Sexual health education is important to the development of Canada’s youth and to lifelong health. We also know that it helps reduce teen pregnancies and prevents Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infections. While education continues to be under provincial jurisdiction, our government has a demonstrated track record on improving sexual health outcomes and reducing STBBIs.
In July we launched our Action Plan on Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infections and the Minister also announced our government’s support for four important initiatives to help make it a reality and fight STBBIs in Canada. To help more Canadians in rural and remote communities get tested, the Innovative Diagnostics Program at the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg is developing new testing technologies – and we’re devoting $5 million to speed up their arrival.
To advance research into prevention, treatment and care, we’re investing nearly $20 million into it through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Finally, to support Canadians living with STBBIs and those at risk, we’re supporting the Centres for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and other STBBI with an investment of $12.5 million.
These investments build on the progress we’ve already made, including the release of the pan-Canadian framework last year.
Liberals believe that no Canadian should have to choose between paying for prescriptions and putting food on the table. Addressing the high cost of prescription drugs is among our top priorities - over the past four years, this government has done more than any other in a generation to make them more affordable and accessible for all Canadians. Now it’s time to take the final step: a re-elected Liberal government will sit down with the provinces and territories to implement universal pharmacare. We will be guided by the five principles outlined in the Hoskins Report - that pharmacare be universal, comprehensive, accessible, portable and public. This will be accompanied by the establishment of the Canada Drug Agency to make drug purchasing more effective and efficient and the implementation of a national formulary. It will build on the significant steps we’ve already taken to lower drug prices, including strengthening the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board (which will save Canadians over $13 billion in the next 10 years,) devoting over a billion dollars towards high cost drugs for Canadians with rare diseases and joining the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (which is already saving Canadians over a billion dollars every year.)
Liberals believe that every Canadian woman should have the freedom to decide if and when to start a family, and that women alone should make this decision. We recognize that too many Canadian women still face barriers to getting the contraceptives they need, which is why contraceptives will be covered under universal pharmacare. This builds on the steps we’ve already taken to expand access to a range of contraceptives, namely adding non-oral contraceptives to the Public Service Health Plan - which covers over 1.4 million Canadians. This reversed the Conservatives’ arbitrary and unjustified decision to reject coverage of these contraceptives during their term in office.
Liberals understand the importance of ensuring that all Canadians have safe, uninterrupted access to medications and devices that support sexual and reproductive health. We strongly support their inclusion in the eventual national formulary that will accompany the introduction of universal pharmacare.
Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights Globally
We announced historic $2 billion increase of Official Development Assistance in budget 2018, and a further increase in Budget 2019. Our government has demonstrated that we have the vision, political leadership, and ability to mobilize international support to make a difference. We were able to mobilise $3.8 billion at the G7 last summer in Charlevoix, to ensure that girls can continue to receive a quality education, even in crisis situations. At Women Deliver, we announced a historic $1.4 billion for global health and rights for women, children, and adolescents. And in contrast to the Conservatives who failed to support the Global Fund during votes on Budget we demonstrated our commitment by hosting world leaders at the fifth Global Fund Replenishment Conference in Montreal which raised nearly $ 13 billion to save 8 million lives globally. We are committed to working to meet the SDG goal of eliminating these terrible diseases by 2030 and our Liberal government looks forward to maintaining Canada’s leadership role at the next replenishment opportunity.
Conservatives have pledged to cut funding to international assistance by 25% to places like India and Bangladesh, which they view as being “too rich”. Canadians know that providing international assistance is about much more than funding, or targetting diseases that don’t respect borders. It is the right thing to do.
We are deeply committed to supporting women’s rights, which include sexual and reproductive rights and the right to access safe and legal abortions. Canadians can count on us to fight internationally for what they know is right.