OTTAWA – On Tuesday, NDP Health Critic, Don Davies (Vancouver – Kingsway) secured a key meeting on the forced sterilization of women in Canada at the Standing Committee on Health. Davies won unanimous support from his colleagues when he moved a motion calling for the Department of Health to provide a briefing, at the earliest opportunity, on forced sterilization, which has disproportionately impacted Indigenous women. This follows NDP Women’s Equality Critic Sheila Malcolmson (Nanaimo – Ladysmith)’s win at the Status of Women committee last week, where her similar motion resulted in Indigenous Services Canada officials appearing to answer questions at committee on Monday. Attempts to pass another motion at Indigenous Affairs and Northern Affairs committee by NDP MPs Rachel Blaney and Niki Ashton were also made.
“Forced sterilization is an appalling form of violence against women and it’s critical that we investigate these horrific acts without delay,” said Davies. “Amnesty International has confirmed that this constitutes a form of torture as defined by the United Nations. It is imperative we explore the scope and causes, and seek accountability and justice for these women. Canada’s health care system must always uphold fundamental human rights.”
Sixty Indigenous women are currently engaged in a class action lawsuit alleging that they were subjected to forced sterilization in our health care system. Some instances occurred as late as 2017. The NDP has been pushing at multiple committees for in-depth studies and ministerial briefings on the matter of forced sterilization, and while the larger asks were not adopted by other parties, the NDP has successfully secured two briefings with department officials. New Democrats will continue to push for longer term, in-depth studies to ensure no woman has to face forced sterilizations again.
“The UN condemnation reveals the Liberal government’s failure to protect Indigenous women from this horrific violation of human rights,” added Malcolmson. “If the Prime Minister is committed to both reconciliation and ending violence against Indigenous women, he can do so by acting now and explicitly prohibit sterilization without free, full, and informed consent.”