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

Just Posted

Casey Affleck’s movie Light of My Life features Southern Interior of B.C.

Film features Academy Award and Emmy Award winners

Forest fires spotted near Greenwood and Christina Lake

Aircraft and ground crews attacked both fires on Thursday

Residents petition for pre-flood value buyout, say Grand Forks case could set B.C. precedent

A petition will be presented to the B.C. Minister of Public Safety next week

Sisters trot across Canada for guide dogs

The Keca sisters passed through the Boundary earlier this week

Cannabis category added to Grand Forks Fall Fair

Mayor to be among judges evaluating look, smell and ‘burnability’

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read