Health minister promises more transgender health services on P.E.I.

Transgender Islanders could soon be able to access more health-care services in the province, according to P.E.I.'s health minister. 

Threat of closure of Clinic 554 in Fredericton speeding up discussions, says James Aylward

Health Minister James Aylward said the province plans to 'repatriate' trans health-care services to P.E.I. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

Transgender Islanders could soon be able to access more health-care services in the province, according to P.E.I.'s health minister. 

James Aylward made that promise during question period Wednesday, which also marked Transgender Day of Remembrance. 

"We have a transgender steering committee that's been established, made up of Health PEI and community representatives. It's currently looking at all transgender health-care issues to come up with a plan going forward," Aylward said. 

"It's this government's intention to provide these services here on our own soil."

Those services include hormone therapy and counselling services, which Islanders currently access at a private clinic in New Brunswick.

N.B. clinic closure would have 'dramatic impact'

Green MLA Trish Altass brought up the issue of trans health-care during question period, because of the threatened closure of Clinic 554 in Fredericton. 

That clinic, which offers abortion services, also provides health-care services to trans Islanders, which are not available on the Island. Islanders travel to Montreal for surgical procedures, but go to the clinic in Fredericton for hormone therapy and counselling services.

Green MLA Trish Altass raised concerns about what the closure of Clinic 554 in Fredericton would mean for transgender Islanders who access services there. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

In October, the clinic announced it was at risk of closing. Altass said the closure of the clinic would "have a dramatic impact on the lives of many trans Islanders." 

She also said the solution of sending Islanders to Clinic 554 "is not a complete one in and of itself," as it can be a burden to travel off-Island. 

Following question period, Altass also tabled a petition from a group of Islanders calling for the removal of barriers to health care for trans Islanders, and to offer the services currently available at Clinic 554 on P.E.I. 

Work underway

Aylward said it is "unfortunate" that the clinic may close, but he said even before the announcement, work was underway to establish a committee on P.E.I. to look at expanding access to health services for transgender Islanders. 

The possibility of Clinic 554 closing sped up "the process on our end to activate more in-depth conversations," Aylward said. 

He said discussions are still ongoing, but there is a clinician interested in providing services on P.E.I. who has stepped forward. He said he hopes services including hormone therapy could be available on P.E.I. sometime in the new year. 

Altass said she is "glad to hear that this is a discussion that has started," and she hopes there won't be a long wait before services are introduced on the Island. 

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