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

VIDEO: Former Abbotsford resident giving away $1,000

Langley native Alex Johnson creates elaborate treasure hunt to give away cash

Missing Richmond man last seen in Chilliwack

Shawn Johnson last seen on June 30 on Main Street

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Eagle Landing

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

Abbotsford man wins $1 million in Lotto 6/49 draw

Kenneth Giffen wins prize after deciding to stop in Agassiz gas station after fishing trip

UPDATE: Abbotsford shooting victim was alleged ‘crime boss,’ according to court documents

Jazzy Sran, 43, was believed to have been smuggling cocaine across the border

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

COVID-19 exposure on Vancouver flight

The Air Canada 8421 flight travelled from Kelowna to Vancouver on July 6

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Chilliwack

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Most Read