By Tamara Shade
Referrals for sex reassignment surgery will be more accessible for transgender people across Ontario effective in 2016.
Currently, Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is the only clinic able to refer transgender patients for reassignment surgery through the Gender Identity Clinic program.
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Dr. Eric Hoskins said wait times have been growing, limiting patient access and contributing to incredible stress and anxiety for vulnerable transgender patients.
“To reduce wait times and provide better access to important necessary health care services our government is introducing today… regulatory amendments to the health insurance act,” and “These proposed amendments will allow medical referrals for insured sex reassignment surgery to be provided by health care providers anywhere in this province, not just at CAMH,” said Hoskins.
The Health Insurance Act proposes that all qualified health care providers be equipped to provide referrals for the surgery early next year.
“The high rates of mental illness and other challenges faced by those who are experiencing gender dysphoria… I can only imagine the additional stress and anxiety and impact of knowing that the path one has to travel to seek out and receive support and be affirmed that must dramatically increase that anxiety,” and “We need to fix this,” said Hoskins.
Sex reassignment surgery was relisted on OHIP in 2008 and the minister said transgender needs should no longer be limited to one institution across the province.
Trans Program Coordinator at Sherbourne Health Centre and member of the LGBT community Kusha Dadui attended the press conference on Friday and said he thinks it’s a great step.
“I’m really happy about it, I think it kind of helps me support my clients better too knowing that this is going to happen,” said Dadui.
Director of Strategy and Performance at Women’s College Hospital Cheryl Woodman said she is pleased with the opportunity the ministry has presented and said it’s really exciting.
The Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Act was passed by the Ontario legislature unanimously in June of 2015 recognizing the rights of the LGBTQ communities.
The Ontario government gives $1.1 million annualy to Rainbow Health Ontario to provide LGBTQ communities with health care services.
“The ministry has really stepped up to deal with health equity and providing better access to care for the transgender community,” said Woodman.