Canada

Fredericton’s Clinic 554 gets visit from Deputy PM, who pledges more pressure on province

FREDERICTON —
Six weeks after she crossed the floor, Fredericton member of parliament Jenica Atwin welcomed the Deputy Prime Minister on a tour of her riding – which began with a visit to Clinic 554.

The family practice has been at the centre of a years-long battle on abortion access in New Brunswick. The clinic’s doctor, Adrian Edgar, has focused his practice on the LGBTQ population and reproductive healthcare.

That includes abortions – a service not funded in N.B. if it happens outside a hospital.

The service is covered by Medicare at three hospitals –the Moncton Hospital, Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital and the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst.

In the days leading up to the last federal election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to sit down with the Blaine Higgs government on the issue.

“We will ensure that the New Brunswick government allows access, paid for access, to clinics that offer abortion services outside of hospitals,” he said during a stop in Fredericton on Oct. 15, 2019.

On Friday, Dr. Edgar said he felt optimistic after meeting with Atwin and Chrystia Freeland.

“There was just a lot of brainstorming,” he said. “We really spent quite a long time thinking about how we can get New Brunswick to be on par with the rest of the country.”

Freeland alluded to having more to say in the future on the issue – but mentioned that Ottawa has taken action, by withholding of a portion of N.B.’s health transfer payment last year.

“The claw back is significant, and we mean what we say about that,” she said. “We’re going to have more to say specifically in the next couple days.”

Premier Blaine Higgs said he’s checked with Horizon Health Authority, and says the Network told him the service is well covered by the three hospitals – but are willing to revisit should that change.

“Let’s not continue to make this a political football,” Higgs said. “Let’s base it on the facts and the facts are that the Horizon Health Network are very prepared to have further discussions to meet the needs if indeed there’s a need required.” 


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