Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor speaks at a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on July 22, 2019.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor is asking all provinces to remove abortion access barriers, saying she is concerned about policies and fees that are “out of step” with federal law.

However, her provincial counterparts in Ontario and New Brunswick – where some patients must pay to access abortion services, in a practice that abortion advocates have flagged as breaching federal health law – have swiftly rebuffed Ms. Petitpas Taylor’s request.

Ms. Petitpas Taylor made the comments in a letter to provincial health lawmakers Wednesday. The letter came after an investigation by The Globe and Mail that revealed many women across Canada are facing difficulty accessing abortion care because of costs and a lack of prescribers for the abortion pill.

Story continues below advertisement

“Given the particular importance of timely access to abortion services, I am very troubled by reports that some patients may be facing unnecessary barriers or delays in receiving these medically necessary services,” Ms. Petitpas Taylor wrote. She also raised concerns in a separate letter to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, which also criticized a provincial proposal to end a provincial program that offers basic out-of-country travel insurance.

Ms. Petitpas Taylor’s office said it was too early to specify what actions it would take if provinces continue to flout federal health law. In the past, the federal government has used clawbacks in health transfer payments to respond to Canada Health Act violations.

Ms. Elliott’s spokesman, Travis Kann, accused the federal minister of seeking to “play politics with such a sensitive issue.”

“She knows what she is saying is false and we will not dignify her misleading claims by engaging in this debate,” he said in a statement to the Globe.

In a statement, a spokesman for New Brunswick’s health department rejected Ms. Petitpas Taylor’s request for a policy change.

“There is no intention to change the status quo,” Bruce Macfarlane wrote.

The group representing Canada’s family doctors, however, said it shares the federal government’s concerns about access.

Story continues below advertisement

“We are committed to connecting [doctors] with the education and the support they need to do this care, and to ensuring that there’s more routine access in postgraduate training,” Dr. Jeff Sisler, an executive director at the College of Family Physicians Canada, said in an interview with The Globe.

Opinion: We cannot solve abortion-pill prescription problems without rethinking our gatekeeper approach

Globe editorial: The abortion pill works, if women can get it

Opinion: Canada’s history with the abortion pill is shameful

Canada’s National Abortion Federation has said that New Brunswick and Ontario are violating a federal health law by forcing patients to pay for their abortions.

The New Brunswick government doesn’t pay for surgical abortions performed outside of hospitals, meaning patients at a private clinic in Fredericton must pay $700 to $850, according to the clinic website. The only other abortion clinics in New Brunswick are in Bathurst and Moncton. They are in hospitals and receive public funds, but are several hours from Fredericton by car. Many parts of the province have no abortion clinic nearby.

Several abortion clinics in Ontario are not funded by the government, meaning women who seek treatment there pay a fee, typically under $100, said Jill Doctoroff, director of NAF, which is the professional association of abortion providers. The cost is less than in New Brunswick because doctors can bill the province for their services. Other clinic-related costs are not covered. Fees can help make up the shortfall, Ms. Doctoroff said.

Examining nationwide access barriers, The Globe investigation revealed that the majority of abortion-pill prescriptions in Canada are written at abortion clinics, which are primarily in large urban centres. In Alberta, for instance, nearly three-quarters of prescriptions came from a single abortion clinic in Calgary. In Manitoba, 95 per cent of prescriptions came from abortion clinics in Winnipeg and Brandon.

This means many women who live outside those cities must travel hundreds of kilometres to get a prescription that any family doctor could write. While some doctors have an ethical objection, numerous clinic directors told The Globe the main reason many don’t prescribe is that they don’t want to be seen as abortion providers and that some believe the care involved with prescribing the pill is too complex.

Story continues below advertisement

Mifegymiso, known as the abortion pill, came on the market in Canada in 2017 and can be prescribed to end pregnancies safely in the first nine weeks. It is 95 per cent to 98 per cent effective.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies