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New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs responds to a question from the media on the final day of the summer meeting of Canada's Premiers at in Victoria on July 12, 2022.CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

A Fredericton sexual assault nurse examiner says New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs’s comments about the case of a rape victim turned away when requesting a forensic exam are misleading and a “slap in the face” to nurses.

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 available nurses trained to perform the rape kit procedure.

The woman was told to go home overnight and return to be examined the following morning.

In a statement, Higgs called the situation unacceptable and said it was reflective of a process guided by “very poor” decision-making and a “lack of compassion.”

Janet Matheson, a sexual assault nurse examiner who works at the hospital where the incident took place, said in a public post on Facebook that Higgs’s comments are harmful to nurses.

Matheson says what happened at the hospital was not the result of a lack of compassion, but instead was “the fault of a system failing under its own weight” because of a shortage of sexual assault nurse examiners.

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