© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau waves to supporters after he spoke at a party rally in Summerside on Labour Day.
P.E.I is the only province that does not offer abortion services within its boundaries
Prince Edward Island’s controversial policy to not offer abortion services in the province may finally have to change if Justin Trudeau is elected prime minister.
In an exclusive interview with The Guardian Monday during a campaign stop in P.E.I., the federal Liberal leader says he was pleased to see the provincial government has made some moves to allow Island women better access to reproductive health services.
But he hinted the province might have to start offering abortions in the province if he wins the Oct. 19 federal election.
“I recognize that Premier MacLauchlan has made positive steps in the right direction, but it’s important that every Canadian across this country has access to a full range of health services, including full reproductive services, in every province in the country,” Trudeau said.
Prince Edward Island remains the only province that does not offer abortion services within the province. Government does pay for the service, but only if done in a hospital. Private clinic abortions are not covered.
“That’s something that we’re going to continue to discuss across the country with the premiers and concerned citizens,” Trudeau said.
In June, the P.E.I. government did eliminate some barriers that made it especially difficult for Island women to access abortions. Previous requirements that pregnant women obtain two doctors’ referrals, an ultrasound and blood work before travelling out-of-province for an abortion were lifted.
But while this does make access to abortion easier and more streamlined, Prince Edward Island women continue to have to leave the province for an abortion.
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P.E.I.’s Liberal Premier Wade MacLauchlan indicated he believes the province is meeting its obligation to offer the service to Prince Edward Island women.
But the Liberal party of Canada passed a resolution during its biennial convention in 2012 to deny transfers to provinces that do not “ensure complete access to (abortion) services or that do not pay for women’s access to this procedure.”
The National Liberal Women’s Commission flagged P.E.I.’s abortion policy in particular when putting forward the resolution.
Trudeau himself has taken a hard line on the political hot potato issue of abortion, proclaiming himself pro-choice and requiring all Liberal MPs to his caucus to support this stance.
But when asked whether he would financially penalize Prince Edward Island if elected prime minister should P.E.I. continue to refuse to offer abortion services in the province, Trudeau took a softer approach.
“I think we’re a long way from consequences like that, but I’m pleased that Prince Edward Island has taken some significant steps in the right direction and I’m continuing to be encouraged by that.”
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau answered questions on a variety of topics when speaking with The Guardian earlier this week. Here’s a taste of what he had to say.
- On the Senate and the fact P.E.I. has only two senators representing the Island:
We will appoint senators through an open, transparent, non-partisan process whereby senators will be expected to be good representatives for their regions and make decisions based on the best interests of the country, and not political or partisan considerations. Removing patronage and political fundraising from the Senate, as we saw with Mike Duffy, will go a long way toward improving its capacity to be that voice for the diverse regions of this country.
“I recognize that Premier MacLauchlan has made positive steps in the right direction, but it’s important that every Canadian across this country has access to a full range of health services, including full reproductive services" Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau
- On P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy:
I’m not a constitutional expert, but it seems to me that if the constitution says you should live in the province you seek to represent, then you should actually live in the province you seek to represent. No, I don’t think he’s a Prince Edward Islander.
- On job creation, in light of news P.E.I. has lost 2,200 jobs in the last year:
The first thing that Islanders need is a federal government that’s going to be an actual partner to provincial governments right across the country…That’s why, on top of being a better partner… we’re actually planning on investing in Canada in infrastructure, in social infrastructure, in green and sustainable infrastructure to start creating jobs right across the country.
- On changes to employment insurance:
We’ve committed to repealing the Conservatives’ ill-thought-through reforms of employment insurance, because their attack on seasonal industries is just irresponsible. They keep talking about seasonal workers, but of course as people know, it’s seasonal industries, not seasonal workers.