Trudeau says unacceptable that New Brunswick hospital turned away rape victim

·2 min read

SAINT ANDREWS, N.B. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday it is "horrific" that a rape victim in New Brunswick was turned away from a Fredericton hospital after she sought a forensic exam.

Speaking to reporters in St. Andrews, N.B., the prime minister said, "It's unacceptable that a survivor (of sexual assault) be faced with that kind of response."

CBC reported this week that a 26-year-old woman who went to the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital last month after she had been raped was told there were no sexual assault nurse examiners available to perform the rape kit.

According to the report, the woman was told to go home overnight, not to shower or change her clothes, and to preserve evidence by avoiding to use the bathroom, before she could be examined the following morning.

Trudeau said, "This is something we take incredibly seriously."

"As difficult as that story was to hear yesterday, we know that there are many stories like it happening all across the country," he added.

The prime minister said the country's health system is under "tremendous" pressure, and he noted that his government has put an additional $72 billion toward health care since the pandemic began and that he's made a "strong commitment for more investments."

He said he knows that some people are not getting the health care "they so deeply need from people who would like to be giving it, but are stressed and stretched too thin in our medical systems across the country."

Margaret Melanson, CEO of Horizon Health, said in a statement the health authority responsible for the Fredericton hospital will be reviewing its process and protocols for the sexual assault nurse examiner program.

"This patient absolutely did everything right in this situation," Melanson said.

"What happened to this patient was unacceptable. We need to improve this program for all those who will come forward."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 13, 2022.

-- By Lyndsay Armstrong in Halifax


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press