Government of Canada Strengthens Access to Abortion Services
May 9, 2023 | Ottawa, Ontario | Health Canada
Everyone should have access to safe and consistent reproductive health services, including abortion. Although abortion has been legal in Canada for five decades, many people continue to experience barriers to access. Sexual and reproductive health is health care and the Government of Canada will always defend a woman’s right to choose while improving access for everyone.
Today, on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, the Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth announced more than $4.2 million in funding from the Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) Fund to the University of British Columbia (UBC) – Contraception and Abortion Research Team (CART) and Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights for their projects. These projects, funded by Budget 2021, will improve access by removing barriers to vital abortion services and offer accurate reproductive health information for Canadians.
While every person’s story and circumstances are unique and barriers can vary in different regions, they often include the unavailability of services nearby, being unable to afford the costs of travel to access abortion care, and difficulty in accessing sexual and reproductive health services that are culturally-responsive and stigma-free. Previous experiences of discrimination within the health care system also make it more difficult for many members of marginalized groups to get the care they need; this is a reality for Indigenous and racialized people, members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities, and youth.
UBC-CART will receive $3,833,486 in funding, to address barriers to abortion access and information for underserved populations in Canada. This project will improve access by working with organizations to develop training resources and materials for health care professionals and patients.
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights will receive $428,236 in funding to expand its Access Line and Sexual Health Information Hub programs, building on Health Canada’s initial investment of $2,291,773 in 2022. The expansion will help increase the project’s reach and accessibility of information and services for underserved populations. This project will also improve access to financial assistance to cover travel and accommodation costs, as well as logistical support to individuals accessing abortion care.
The SRH Fund was established through Budget 2021 with an initial investment of $45 million to improve access to sexual and reproductive health care. To date, over $38.9 million has been committed with an additional commitment of $36M through Budget 2023. These investments reflect the Government of Canada’s belief that everyone has the right to make decisions about their own bodies and that no matter who you are or where you live, we will always protect sexual and reproductive health rights for all individuals in Canada.
“Our government will always support a woman’s right to choose and ensure that sexual and reproductive health care is accessible for everyone, no matter who they are or where they live. As many individuals continue to face barriers and stigma when trying to access these services, organizations like Action Canada and the University of British Columbia are doing important work to find solutions to improve access to abortion services across Canada. Together, we will continue to protect and improve the right to safe and consistent access to reproductive health services, including abortion.”
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
“We know that women across Canada face barriers when accessing abortion services - such as the cost of travel, cultural stigma, and difficulties accessing accurate information. This is why it is critical that we continue to work with organizations like Action Canada and the University of British Columbia, to make sure that underserved women have access to safe abortion services, wherever they live. We will always support a woman’s right to choose, and we will continue protecting sexual and reproductive health rights.”
The Honourable Marci Ien
Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth
"Denying a person abortion care is denying them the right to have full control over their own body. In Canada, we have a right to choose an abortion, but not everyone has access. The Action Canada Access Line gives people the information and support they need to get an abortion, no matter how far they have to travel or what’s in their bank account. This funding is an essential part of making access to abortion a reality for everyone."
Farrah Khan, Executive Director
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
"UBC's Contraception and Abortion Research Team (CART) and our 56 investigators and partner organizations across the country are thrilled to receive the support of Health Canada to undertake this project. We aim to improve equitable, accessible abortion care throughout Canada, particularly for groups that are currently underserved. Bringing together experts and health professional organizations for nurses, midwives, pharmacists, physicians, social workers and doulas we are creating an exciting range of health professional resources and trainings. We are interlinking this with cutting edge supports and tools to assist anyone seeking an abortion to access acceptable, appropriate and high quality abortion care closer to home. "
Dr. Wendy V. Norman
Professor, Dept of Family Practice, University of British Columbia, Founder and co-director CART (Contraception & Abortion Research Team)
Budget 2021 committed $45 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to improve access to sexual and reproductive health care support, information, and services for people in Canada who face the greatest barriers to access.
Budget 2023 proposes to provide $36 million over three years, starting in 2024-25, to Health Canada to renew the Sexual and Reproductive Health Fund.
To date, over $38.9 million has been allocated. Twenty-three projects, valued at $29.2 million, have been funded. Of these projects, four address access to abortion, seven address 2SLGBTQI+ communities, and four focus on Indigenous communities, including Indigenous youth and Two Spirit people. Two projects focus racialized people or newcomers, two more address youth from a range of populations, and four more address additional priorities. In addition, as the projects above are national in scope or focus on provinces and territories other than Québec, per capita funding of $9.7M has been allocated to the Province of Québec to support community-based organizations located in Québec. Budget 2023 renews and extends the SRH Fund with a further $36 million over three years, starting in 2024-2025.
The Sexual and Reproductive Health Fund was created to support a wide range of evidence-informed and innovative projects for people in Canada who are at increased risk for poorer sexual and reproductive health outcomes, including members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities, Indigenous and racialized people, women and youth.
In addition, Budget 2022 committed $79 million over six years to help support people in Canada who want to become parents as well as allow:
- medical expenses related to a surrogate mother or a sperm, ova, or embryo donor fees paid to fertility clinics and donor banks in Canada in order to obtain donor sperm and ova to be eligible under the Medical Expense Tax Credit for 2022 and subsequent taxation years.
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
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