We get to see up close and personal the kind of thinking that Minister Liepert thinks is a perfectly good excuse for axing programs.
His response to very direct questions from opposition MLA's Kent Hehr, Lori Blakeman and Rachel Notley with regards to cutting Gender Reassignment Surgery funding from the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan boils down to "well, we cut other things too".
Streaming Video Feed
Kent Hehr @ 11:15 has a great statement on the GRS topic
Lori Blakeman @ 25:00 takes Minister Liepert to task
Rachel Notley @ 51:00 similarly takes on Minister Liepert.
Why yes, yes they did. What else did they decide to cut? Well, let's start with the $200 subsidy for chiropractic care - this primarily affects seniors who are on limited, fixed incomes. Then he announced that they defunded a youth suicide prevention program. Brilliant - it's not like youth have any real political voice to begin with, and goodness knows Mr. Liepert couldn't give a fig if a few more troubled teens attempt to take their lives. After all, a dead teen doesn't cost the health care system any money, do they? Do I really need to point out how common suicide attempts are among transgender youth?
While I am sure that some of the programs that Liepert axed aren't medically necessary by any measure, I do know that GRS is deemed medically necessary for severe cases of Gender Identity Disorder. That is one of the key distinctions between it and some of the other cuts that Liepert has referred to.
When I look at a health care system whose overseers - the "superboard" - can afford to vote themselves a 25% pay hike in the midst of a recession, I can only say that Minister Liepert is looking in the wrong places for "efficiencies". He could save far more than $700,000 I'm sure - and I'm not even going to guess how much it will cost the government to defend its decision against the inevitable challenges to their delisting of GRS.
Liepert thinks that GRS is "healthcare of the 50s" - which only goes to show his gross ignorance of the history of treatment for transsexuals. If he wants to build a health care system for the 21st century, it's time that he realized that includes all Albertans, not just those that Mr. Liepert approves of.
Alberta's government has lost sight of its basic humanity.