Clinic 554 has no choice but to close its doors later this month. The clinic is a family doctor’s office that provides abortion services and queer and transgender health care, along with other services for the marginalized folk in New Brunswick.
This closure stems from financial loses the clinic has taken because of the government’s refusal to support out-of-hospital abortions. This refusal goes against the Canada Health Act and is leaving locals very upset.
“New Brunswickers deserve this kind of access,” said Jessi Taylor, who is the spokesperson for Reproductive Justice New Brunswick.
This organization is a collection of community members interested in expanding reproductive justice across NB. Because of the current situation and struggles, the clinic has been the group’s main focus.
There are three hospitals in the province that provide abortion services, but their services are not the same as the clinic.
“Clinics are cheaper, safer, and considered the best practice,” said Taylor.
The services they provide are much more than just abortions. Clinic 554 has two to three thousand patients and 50 per cent of those are a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
“The clinic is this really amazing community resource. Once it’s gone it’ll be very expensive to replace, so it’s not something we can afford to lose.”
When patients come to the clinic who can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket, they are not turned away. Instead, the services are funded by the workers’ salaries, the building’s rent, and various other sources. This is why they can no longer afford to stay open.
The human resources behind the clinic are not replaceable. Those who run the clinic come with specialized care and specialized training, and chose to return to New Brunswick to provide their services.
Once those people are gone, it will be difficult to replace that kind of specialized training. Taylor feels that “these amazing providers do not deserve to leave, retire or burnout.”
For the last five elections, Clinic 554 has been a major focus.
“We are really exhausted with politicians playing political football with our healthcare and doing nothing to act when in government.”
The changes that need to be made by the government are to repeal section 8420 and to have adequate billing codes. This would allow Clinic 554 to carry on with their practice.
“The changes that need to be made are actually very simple and very quick, literally with a stroke of a pen.”
“Squandering the resources that the community has worked hard to build with their own money is a slap in the face. It doesn’t matter who’s in government, New Brunswick shouldn’t be breaking the law.”
Conservatives in this election have been saying that abortion services need to be available, that queer healthcare matters, and that doctors are not being compensated properly for complicated care. So the decision must be made with the premier and his cabinet to repeal and gain adequate billing codes in order for Clinic 554 to survive.
“New Brunswickers are tired of politicians playing games with their health care and bodies. We deserve real health care.”