“If ever we’ve needed the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, it is now,” Boudreau commented. “The Status of Women council was that independent organization that could speak out on behalf of women against the government when it took the wrong path, as the Alward government did when it cut sexual health services to the age group that most needs those services.”
Opposition Health Critic Bill Fraser broke the news of the changes in sexual health services during the main estimates of the Department of Health during the last Legislative session. At that time, New Brunswickers learned that, despite what the Minister of Health described as an “epidemic” of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), the government was eliminating sexual health services to women ages 20-24.
The Legislative Assembly also heard that three out of four doctors practising at a Fredericton sexual health clinic had resigned their positions in protest of the cut to services.
The interim Liberal leader suggests that had the Status of Women advisory council still been in existence, pressure could have been applied to avoid this bad decision from happening. The advisory council was eliminated by David Alward, despite his promise in his election platform to work with the group that he eliminated at the first opportunity.
“By eliminating the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, this government sought to silence the voices of women,” Boudreau charged.
“If the Status of Women council was still around, women would have a strong voice on this issue,” he added. “This is a prime example of why we’ve been calling on Minister (Margaret-Ann) Blaney to immediately reinstate funding to the Advisory Council.”