Questioning the Prime Minister; Canada's Domestic Human Rights Review, Time to Address Fair Access to Abortion
May 10th, 2018 - 10:15am
Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP): Mr. Speaker, this Friday, Canada will be held accountable for its human rights record at our third periodic review at the UN. Safe and equal access to abortion is the right of all Canadians, yet this remains shockingly inconsistent. Women living in rural areas often travel unacceptable distances to access an abortion clinic. It is unconscionable. When will the government use the Canada Health Act to grant all Canadians their right to safe and equal access to abortion?
Right Hon. Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for her hard work, standing up and fighting for women's rights right across the country. We agree with her. We know that safe and easy access, responsible access, affordable access to reproductive-health services, including abortions, is of fundamental importance to all Canadians. That is why we moved forward on ensuring that all provinces are offering that. We continue to work right across the country to ensure that the Canada Health Act is brought in. We will always be unequivocal in standing up for a woman's right to choose.
An hon. member: It is not a right.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Ms. Anne Minh-Thu Quach (Salaberry—Suroît, NDP): Mr. Speaker, this is a right, and everyone needs to understand that.
The UN is about to embark on its periodic review of Canada's human rights performance. Safe and equal access to abortion is one of those rights.
While the Prime Minister boasts about being a feminist at five-star receptions with the rich and famous, many Canadian women are struggling to access treatments they are entitled to. That is unacceptable.
What concrete steps is the Prime Minister going to take to ensure that every woman has access to safe abortion?
Right Hon. Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, from the day we took office, we have been working with provinces where access to these services was inconsistent or non-existent and making sure they started offering women reproductive health services and protection and respecting women's choices. We on this side of the House, along with the NDP, understand that women unequivocally have the right to decide what to do with their bodies, and we are always going to stand up for that right, regardless of what the Conservatives think or say.