Canada considers cutting free Viagra, transgender surgery for troops

Government could face legal challenges if they cut free sex reassignment surgery for the military

Canada considers cutting free Viagra, transgender surgery for troops
29 April 2012

Canada’s National Defence Department is considering cutting free Viagra and tax-paid transgender surgery for their armed forces.

The country is currently looking for ways to trim its $1.5 billion (£922million, €1.1billion) defence budget, and both programs cost more than $2million (£1.2million, €1.5million) a year.

According to the Winnipeg Free Press, the department has offered up these two programs to be cut for the last two years.

Viagra, a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction in men, was introduced as a free prescription for soldiers since 2000. It is often prescribed after some men lose their sexual drives after combat because of post-traumatic stress disorder.

An anonymous soldier commented online: ‘They treat you for depression by using a drug that as a side effect kills the urge to have sex, making your wife feel inadequate in the process.

‘Think you were depressed before? Just wait till your wife is pissed at you.’

A constitutional law expert Errol Mendes told CBC News sex-reassignment surgery is another matter entirely and the government could face legal challenges.

He said: ‘It shows the Canadian military is more open and progressive, especially when compared to what you see south of the border.’

Free for the Canadian military since 1998, the surgery is deemed essential by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

Mendes said the rights of transgender people have not been explicitly dealt with by the Supreme Court and challenging the elimination of the program would be tricky.

He added the court could deem them a vulnerable group, but proving a disadvantage may be more difficult. 

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