New Brunswick

Health care dominates leaders' forum on women's equality

The forum was hosted by the New Brunswick Women’s Council at the Wu Centre in Fredericton and featured the leaders of all five major political parties in the province.

Abortion, funding and treatment models were all discussed during Monday's forum

Leaders from New Brunswick's five major political parties spoke on women's equality issues at an invite-only forum held in Fredericton. (New Brunswick Women’s Council/Facebook)

Healthcare was a major focus at an invite-only leaders' forum Monday night.

The forum was hosted by the New Brunswick Women's Council at the Wu Conference Centre in Fredericton and featured the leaders of all five major political parties in the province.

Various facets of women's health dominated the discussion throughout the evening. 

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant touted his party's progress on the issue of abortion access.

"For 30 years in this province there was a two-doctor rule that meant New Brunswick was not respecting a woman's right to choose," said Gallant.

"We, after 30 years, finally got rid of it."

However, Green Party Leader David Coon criticized the Liberals for not ensuring that abortions provided at private clinics were publicly funded.

"We would want to make sure that abortions are available in all regions of the province," said Coon, adding that publicly funded abortions are only performed in Moncton and Bathurst.

"We can start with Fredericton by ensuring that publicly funded abortions are available at Clinic 554."

Healthcare Funding

Gallant and McKenzie clashed on the issue of health funding for aging. (New Brunswick Women’s Council/Facebook)
NDP Leader Jennifer McKenzie took Gallant to task over his party's handling of healthcare negotiations with Ottawa.

"When he negotiated the healthcare deal with the federal government, he did not include a factor for aging," said McKenzie.

Gallant responded later, saying the government did negotiate three years' worth of funding.

"For three years, that's a long way into the future," said McKenzie.

"No other province got it, so that's great," said Gallant at the same time.


Higgs commented on the need to change treatment models to reflect how the onset of symptoms differs between men and women. (New Brunswick Women’s Council/Facebook)

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs said change is needed in healthcare at the highest level, citing treatment models that focus on men.

"Heart disease, we now know women's and men's symptoms present very differently," said Higgs.

"Another research is on head injuries under a male model of health. Most men get concussions from sports injuries … women often get head injuries because of domestic violence."

People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin spoke more generally about healthcare, choosing not to focus on issues that affect women specifically.

"Healthcare in New Brunswick is at a crisis mode, let's not fool ourselves," said Austin.

"We have to tackle the healthcare issue, not just for women but for society as a whole."

Other issues discussed at the forum were employment and economic security, accessing and providing care, safety and violence and inequality and discrimination.

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