OTTAWA, April 26, 2002 ( – Two weeks ago federal Health Minister Anne McLellan wrote her New Brunswick provincial counterpart to suggest a three-member panel to arbitrate disputes around the Canada Health Act. One of the major disputes between Ottawa and the provinces in this regard has been the funding of abortions at private abortuaries rather than only in hospitals.

The federal government has threatened some provinces with loss of funds if they refuse to fund abortions at private abortuaries. Through a freedom of information request The Moncton Times and Transcript obtained a copy of notes for a conversation between the federal and New Brunswick health ministers last year, demonstrating the threats.

Notes for then Health Minister Allan Rock which were prepared him for a conversation with then New Brunswick Health Minister Dennis Furlong read: “Unless New Brunswick agrees to change its policy, the province is vulnerable to mandatory dollar-for-dollar penalties under the user charges and extra-billing provisions of the Act and to discretionary penalties for a violation of the comprehensiveness and/or accessibility criteria.” The notes continued, “During your conversation with Minister Furlong, you should emphasize that Health Canada has a Canada Health Act concern with New Brunswick’s policy, that as federal minister you have a responsibility to ensure that provinces and territories comply with the requirements of the Act, and that you would prefer to resolve this issue through negotiation rather than the application of penalties.”

Campaign Life Coalition New Brunswick President Peter Ryan said there is no need for the arbitration panel. “The so-called dispute between Ottawa and Fredericton is not hard to resolve,” said Ryan. “All the province has to do is stand its ground that it will not force New Brunswickers to pay for abortions at private centers. And all the feds have to do is stop trying to coerce the province to coerce its people to pay for dead babies. What could be simpler?”

For the people of New Brunswick to fund abortion is to pay for their own demise as a people, Ryan maintains. “Abortion is a prime reason why the New Brunswick and Canadian birthrates are well below replacement levels.” (The current Canadian rate is 1.5 per woman of child-bearing age. The most recently reported abortion rate is one abortion per 3 live births. Therefore, without surgical abortion the national birthrate would be 2, i.e. more or less replacement level.)

According to a 2001 province-wide poll conducted by Corporate Research Associates, most New Brunswickers oppose abortion funding, regardless of where they are performed. 58% said they opposed funding private abortion clinics; 31% were in favour.