Canada: Wildrose leader takes heat for gender-reassignment stance

From The Edmonton Journal:

By Keith Gerein
June 8, 2012

EDMONTON — Two days after Danielle Smith promised to begin healing wounds with Alberta’s gay community, the Wildrose leader slammed the province’s promise to reinstate funding for gender-reassignment surgery.

Smith said while individuals should be free to pay for the “elective” surgery, public health dollars should go to more pressing needs such as dentistry for low-income children, insulin pumps and hearing aids for seniors.

She further accused the Tories of playing politics with the issue, saying their decision to fund the procedure was based more on currying favour than common sense.

“I think it’s clearly elective surgery,” Smith said. “I sympathize with those who want to have the surgery, and I absolutely support their right to pay for it, but when we are talking about medically necessary treatment, I think for most people this is not something that would fall into that category.

“I think that when people look at the kind of procedures that aren’t covered by the system, they sort of scratch their heads and say why would this be a higher priority than some of those other things?”

She said the government should focus on bringing down wait times down for things that are already covered, such as seniors’ care, knee-and hip replacements, cataract surgeries, and MRIs.

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