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

Island riders conquering new heights

With no races, cyclists tackle Everest challenge to lift community

Saanich police search for suspect accused of using stolen credit, debit cards

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers says suspect made numerous fraudulent purchases

Homeless woman sentenced to 18 months in jail for selling drugs to Victoria police officer

Officer paid $20 for a substance consisting of heroin, fentanyl and caffeine

Family restaurant to hold Saturday fundraiser for Beirut blast

Wrap and Roll will donate all sales to victims of blast

Police looking for witnesses of alleged assault in Burnside Gorge’s Cecila Ravine

Concerned woman pushed to the ground, had phone broken while taking a photo of a dog

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

Most Read