NDP calls on minister of rural and remote health to show he can do the job, or step aside

After Minister of Rural and Remote Health Greg Ottenbreit failed to clarify his recent remarks to an anti-abortion group, the Saskatchewan NDP called on the minister to demonstrate his ability to carry out the duties required of the role, or to step aside.

“We simply can’t have a minister working to undermine access to a constitutionally protected health service when it’s his job to ensure access to that service,” said NDP Health Critic Vicki Mowat. “Women in rural and remote areas who lack access to reproductive health options need to hear directly from the Minister that he is working for them, not for lobby groups seeking to restrict access.”   

Minister Ottenbreit recently spoke at an anti-abortion convention where he voiced support for the group’s “battle” and committed to “do what I can in my professional capacity” to assist. This came after both the NDP and the Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan called for universal coverage of Mifegymiso, a less invasive, safer, and more affordable alternative to surgical abortion.

In Question Period today, Mowat repeatedly called on Minister Ottenbreit to commit that he would stop speaking at anti-abortion events, would work to ensure access to constitutionally protected medical services, and would agree to fully funding Mifegymiso.

“If the Minister won’t refrain from speaking to anti-abortion groups, won’t commit to working to ensure access to constitutionally protected medical services, and won’t commit to fully funding Mifegymiso, then we need a minister of rural and remote health who can,” Mowat said.

When Ottenbreit declined to do so, Mowat turned her questions to the Premier.

“The Minister has failed to provide any assurance that he is willing and able to do his job,” Mowat said. “Since the Minister has proven himself incapable of doing his job, will the Premier find a Minister of Rural and Remote Health who can?”