Manitoba’s NDP Government Puts Paying For Sex-Change Surgery on the Back Burner, For Now

Thu Aug 6, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

WINNIPEG, August 6, 2009 ( - A "confidential" government document obtained by the Winnipeg Sun outlines the Manitoba government's plan for full funding of treatments and surgery for people who believe they are the opposite sex to their physical gender.

The Sun reports that the funding proposal went as far as the Treasury Board, a subcommittee of Premier Gary Doer's cabinet that makes funding decisions, before it was put on the back burner.

"Manitoba has no standards of care of gender identity disorder in spite of the fact that internationally accepted standards exist," the document states. "Coverage is denied on the basis that treatments are cosmetic, experimental or not medically necessary, contrary to all available evidence."

Healthy Living Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross, who made an official government visit to a Montreal clinic that performs so-called "sex reassignment" surgeries last November to learn how that clinic's organization could be applied to a "made-in-Manitoba" program, said her government is considering paying for the treatments, but not in the near future because of the poor economy.

"We're always looking at what we can do to provide services for Manitobans," she told reporters. "As we move forward with our Healthy Sexuality strategy, we'll talk about what our next steps will be.

"It's the economic downturn that's happened in the country and impacts our province. Now we have to watch how we'll make our expenditures. With the economic times we're in, we're slowing the pace on a number of initiatives."

Irvin-Ross said fewer than 20 Manitobans per year seek a sex change, which can cost up to $60,000 per person, plus the cost of psychological assessment and diagnosis and hormone therapy.

Alberta recently announced it would no longer cover "sex-reassignment" surgery as a cost-cutting measure, while Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and B.C. have partial or full coverage for the procedures.

To contact the Manitoba government with your opinion:

Premier Gary Doer
204 Legislative Building
450 Broadway
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8
Phone: 204-945-3714
Fax: 204-949-1484
Email: [email protected]

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