Published on June 13, 2013
By Haley Ryan – Metro Halifax
HALIFAX – For Kate Shewan, the last week has been a “rollercoaster.”
On Wednesday, the province announced it would cover gender
reassignment surgery, just days after the health minister sent a
letter to the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project (NSRAP) saying the
procedure wouldn’t be paid for.
“To actually come around and say ‘yes they are (paying),’ was a big
surprise,” said Shewan, treasurer with the NSRAP.
“I was overjoyed with that really, really exciting news.”
Wilson said the change came after meeting with NSRAP, reviewing
medical evidence, and examining if there were any barriers for Nova
Scotians who wanted government support for the surgery.
“When we do have legislation or policies in place that are hindering
those individuals from moving forward, and ensuring they can gain
access to the services they need, then we need to change that,” Wilson
“This decision really comes down to doing the right thing.”
Kevin Kindred, NSRAP chair, said likely 6 to 8 people a year would
receive the surgery, based on the numbers in seven other provinces
already providing funding.
“There has to be patient-by-patient assessment that it is medically
necessary, so it’s not simply a matter of demand, just like you and I
can’t insist on having heart surgery,” Kindred said.
Kindred said the ballpark cost for the surgeries ranges between $30-60,000.
Shewan said this surgery is “a little bit different” than other
funding shortfalls the public hopes to have covered because the
restrictions were targeting a specifically marginalized community.
“It will make them feel like it’s going to allow them to be a complete
person,” said Shewan of the surgery.
Wilson said he has spoken with Doctors Nova Scotia, and over the next
few weeks the department will form a policy outlining what procedures
will be covered.
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