Liberal MP Bill Casey. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

MPs ‘deeply disturbed’ by reports of coerced, forced sterilization

Health committee says coerced sterilization of Indigenous women in Canada continues to this day

The House of Commons health committee is calling on the federal government to investigate the problem of coerced or forced sterilization of women in Canada.

The committee has sent a letter to Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan, detailing what it heard from witnesses this spring.

In the letter, committee chair and Liberal MP Bill Casey writes the committee heard the forced or coerced sterilization of Indigenous women in Canada continues to this day, but that the full extent of it remains unknown.

In June, lawyer Alisa Lombard, a partner with the firm Semaganis Worme Lombard, told the committee she represents a client, referred to as D.D.S., who was sterilized without proper and informed consent in December 2018 at a hospital in Moose Jaw, Sask. In April, the Saskatchewan Health Authority confirmed it is investigating a complaint.

The incident took place after the United Nations Committee Against Torture urged Canada to take action on the issue and report back after one year, Lombard noted.

The committee agrees with witnesses that urgent action must be taken immediately in order to address harms and to prevent it from happening in the future, Casey wrote.

“The committee is deeply disturbed by ongoing reports of coerced or forced sterilization of women in Canada and recognizes the need for an in-depth study to understand the full scope of the issue.”

The committee is also recommending the government invite national Indigenous women’s organizations to participate in all federal, provincial and territorial meetings aimed at addressing coerced or forced sterilization of Indigenous women.

It also suggests Ottawa work with the provinces, territories, health care providers and Indigenous organizations to establish a pan-Canadian data collection system through the Canadian Institute for Health Information to monitor sterilization procedures across the country.

READ MORE: $500-million lawsuit proposed on coerced sterilization in Alberta

O’Regan’s office issued a statement calling forced and coerced sterilization a violation of human rights and a practice that is “deeply troubling.”

It said it encourages anyone with specific criminal allegations to report them to police and promised to keep working with partners to improve access to culturally safe health services.

In June, the health committee heard from a Metis physician, Dr. Judith Bartlett, who co-authored an external review of the issue in Saskatchewan following complaints from Indigenous women. She said she does not believe women will come forward to the RCMP because there is “no safety there for them.”

In 2017, the Saskatchewan Health Region issued a public apology following the release of the review from Bartlett and Metis researcher Yvonne Boyer, now an Independent senator for Ontario.

Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Grand Forks halves tax increase amid COVID-19

Council also voted to delay implementing increases to utilities until the fall

Snowpack measurements ‘promising’: RDKB

Measurements show Boundary snowpack just high of average range

Don’t travel to vacation homes or cabins, urges Kootenay Boundary district

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary asks residents not to travel to secondary homes

Grand Forks and Boundary cancellations, changes due to COVID-19

This newspaper’s list of community events, institutions that change or cancel due to pandemic

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Most Read