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How did sex-change operations become a healthcare priority?

(Queen's Park Report -- May 27, 2008) The Victoria Day weekend is a time for Ontarians to celebrate the Queen’s birthday and the unofficial start of summer with family and friends.  For Health Minister George Smitherman, this year it was a time to announce that taxpayers will once again pay for sex-change operations.  As the Minister of Health who first announced that OHIP would no longer pay for sex change operations, I was surprised that this was back on the provincial agenda.

It was apparently also a surprise announcement for some in the Liberal caucus who were caught off guard.  This is surprising given that this is the same Liberal government that stopped funding for eye exams, physiotherapy and chiropractic care, and from the same Premier who in 2004 said funding for sex-change surgery was not a priority.

  With over 207,000 manufacturing jobs lost since 2004, hard-pressed families and single moms are forced to pay out of pocket for eye exams, chiropractic care and physiotherapy. Long-term care residents are sitting in their own waste for hours without care. Try to get a PET scan in Ontario and you will likely languish on a waiting list.  If you don’t have a family doctor you’re invited to join Mr. McGuinty’s no-doctor club where membership is currently a million Ontarians strong.  And if you require an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, be prepared to wait up to two years just for your initial consultation.

That is healthcare in Mr. McGuinty’s Ontario, and yet, he is prepared to spend $20,000 for each sex-change surgery plus years of expensive drug therapy for those who want to reassign their gender.

I think the people of this province deserve an explanation of exactly how sex-change surgery got to the top of the health care priority list.


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