MONCTON, N.B. -- The New Brunswick government says transgender people in the province will be able to have gender-confirming surgery covered under Medicare.

"It was time," said Health Minister Victor Boudreau. "We're the last province in the country to provide coverage for gender-confirming surgeries under Medicare."

He said neighbouring Nova Scotia gets requests for such surgery from about 30 people each year.

Boudreau said he expects some surgeries to be done in New Brunswick, while others could be done in other provinces.

"In our case here, to be covered under Medicare, it would have to be done in Canada," he said.

Boudreau said transgender persons in New Brunswick are facing challenges in life and in the health-care system.

Michelle Leard, of the New Brunswick Transgender Health Network, says the surgery is a crucial part of a successful transition for many transgender people.

"Today's announcement will change the lives of transgender New Brunswickers who are presently facing challenging health, mental health and social situations," Leard said.

Boudreau said there will be some procedures that won't be covered.

"Whether you're talking about breast implants, laser hair removal, or voice-pitch surgeries, those types of things we don't do now for New Brunswickers, so we wouldn't do for transgender New Brunswickers," he said.

Boudreau said the government is also proceeding with plans to allow transgender individuals to change their birth certificates to match their gender identities.

The province must make amendments to the Medical Services Payment Act and will introduce legislation this fall to amend the Vital Statistics Act.