Gender Identity

Gender identity refers to a person’s internal and individual experience of gender. All people have the right to identify with the gender of their choice without fear of discrimination in education, healthcare, social and political participation; and to live free of verbal and/or physical assault.

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2018

Today, on Trans Day of Remembrance, we acknowledge the gains made on both the global and domestic stage to ensure that all people have the right to live free from violence, discrimination and coercion. We recognize activists who have been and continue to be on the front lines, leading the charge to end transphobia and cissexism in all its forms. These gains include, but are not limited to, the passing of the historic Bill C-16 which adds gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in Canada and the funding of the Trans PULSE Canada research team who will continue the crucial and transformative work done by the Trans PULSE Ontario research team (Woohooo! Congratulations!).

We also recognize that although these gains are huge, we still have a long way to go to ensure trans people live free from violence and discrimination. This is especially the case for people who experience intersecting oppressions and structural violence such as trans Black, Brown, Indigenous People of Colour. We see the links between the pushbacks against sex-ed curricula in several provinces or discriminatory policies and resolutions targeting trans and gender non-conforming people gaining ground, and transphobic violence. We commit to fight for trans rights, for justice, for health equity and for resources, and we pledge to continue working with and alongside trans, gender non-binary and two-spirit communities to stand up against transphobia and transmisogyny.

Today and every day, we mourn and we remember all of those lost in the world because of transphobia. We also celebrate the resilience, power and beauty of trans people and the legacy of trans-led organizing and community building in the broader struggle for justice and liberation for all.

Why Politicians are Trying to Rob a Generation of their Right to Sex-Ed

Sex-ed, when done well, saves lives, so what young people stand to lose in this fight is clear: health, safety and wellbeing.

Op-Ed by Action Canada
Originally published in the Huffington Post

Sex-ed has become a hot political topic across the country.

At the same time as tens of thousands of Ontario school students staged walkouts to protest the return of an outrageously outdated health curriculum, social conservatives in British Columbia are banding together to run municipal election platforms against LGBTQ curriculum content.

For many parents, voters and politicians, sex-ed is understood as part of the health and wellbeing of young people. At the same time, we’re seeing a rise in the exploitation of people’s fears with misinformation to win political points.

What young people stand to lose in this fight is clear: health, safety and wellbeing. Sex-ed, when done well, saves lives. Comprehensive and inclusive sex-ed leads to declining STI and unintended pregnancy rates, the prevention of gender-based violence, and increased school safety for LGBTQ students. When sex-ed uses an explicit human rights-based approach, it even increases open dialogue with parents about sex and relationships.

Those very facts should be enough to end the debate. Yet despite the research and overwhelming parental support for sex-ed in schools, a small but vocal minority who want it abolished are being rewarded by a disproportionate amount of media attention and political success.

The backlash to a resource that was developed in collaboration with the B.C. Ministry of Education to create safer learning environments for LGBTQ students is disturbingly similar to what transpired in Ontario.

Rallies are being held in front of the provincial legislature, rampant misinformation about the content of the toolkit and lesson plans is spreading, and political platforms are being built to roll-back the resource in schools where it’s currently being used and to ban it from schools where it isn’t.

The lobbying success of these groups in B.C., like Ontario, is a symptom of the growing political influence of a once-fringe brand of social conservatism. Conservatives are being told that their worldview is under attack and that the classroom is an appropriate venue to wage war against the human rights of women, girls and LGBTQ youth.

A genuine fight for human rights and freedoms is never won at the expense of others.

The morality showdown is cleverly cloaked in language appropriated from a human rights lexicon. Parental rights are pitted against the health and rights of young people, as if it’s a zero-sum game. Freedom of parental expression is invoked to curtail freedom of gender expression. Freedom of religion is used to undermine support for sexual minorities and the notion that a robust health education will benefit all of our children.

Misinformation about what is being taught is being used to gain political support under the guise of protecting children.

In the end it comes down to this: human rights are interconnected and equal, they extend only insofar as they don’t harm another person. A genuine fight for human rights and freedoms is never won at the expense of others.

Freedom of expression, for example, cannot override people’s right to health, to education and to live free from violence and discrimination; it cannot override the right to sex-ed, which is enshrined in international human rights laws and protected by global experts such as the World Health Organization.

In Ontario, bolstered by the many complaints made by young people and parents, the Ontario Human Rights Commission filed a notice of intervention last week with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to protect the rights of girls and LGBTQ students who will suffer the most from sub-par sex-ed.

In B.C., resistance to backlash has taken the form of a youth-led campaign called “Sex ed is Our Right.”

Every one of us is entitled to receive relevant, accurate education and health information throughout our lives, and no government has the authority to deny it to an entire generation.

Resistance matters and your voice counts. If you believe in every person’s right to live a safe, healthy life that is free from violence, make yourself heard. Young people need you.

Annual Report 2016-2017

Whether it’s been campaigning for universal cost coverage of medical abortion, launching a cutting-edge resource for teaching sexuality education in schools, securing a major investment in global SRHR from the government Canada, offering thousands of people the health information they are looking for, or supporting sexual and reproductive rights defenders around the world to hold their governments accountable, we’ve been working tirelessly to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally.

Read our Annual Report to learn about the significant strides we made in 2016-2017 »

Having trouble reading the report? Click here to download in PDF

Ontario Enacted New Safety Measures Today!

Safe access zone legislation comes into effect in Ontario today. That means thousands of patients, health care providers and staff will benefit from a new layer of protection against verbal harassment, physical assault and targeted threats. The behaviours that will be prohibited within fifty feet of abortion providing facilities are human rights violations – specifically, acts of violence.

In a related effort to realize sexual and reproductive rights in Canada, the federal government recently amended criteria to ensure that public funds are not put toward activities that discriminate against individuals and undermine human rights. Previously, the sole purpose of some of the Canada Summer Jobs program projects was to undermine reproductive rights and the rights of individuals with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. These publicly funded acts of discrimination contributed to a culture of misogyny, transphobia and homophobia that compromised the health, safety and well-being of women and LGTBQ+ individuals.

In both cases, these changes to law and policy are about unlawful actions, not opinions. These changes do not infringe on freedom of religion, expression, conscience, or any other right that people in Canada enjoy. Instead, they are a step towards greater compliance with existing Canadian and international human rights law – namely the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Advocates and legal experts have been saying for years that Canadian policies do not reflect our laws and obligations. This is not a situation of writing ideology into the law, it is a step towards compliance with domestic and international law.

Safe Access Zones and the Canada Summer Jobs program changes ensure individuals have access to accurate and non-discriminatory information and the protections they need to access health and other public services in safe environments, without the threat of violence.

Our domestic and international laws dictate that Canada has an obligation to proactively protect individuals from all forms of violence and discrimination. Individuals seeking abortion services should not face harassment, judgement or violence – all of which result in barriers to a medically necessary service. Children should not be subjected to hate and exclusion for being queer and/or trans.

Action Canada commends the Federal Government and the Government of Ontario for taking these much needed steps towards greater respect, protection and fulfilment of sexual and reproductive rights in Canada. Unfortunately, gaps persist. We therefore urge provinces and territories that have yet to enact Safe Access Zone legislation to do so with specific attention to extended abortion care resulting from the roll out of the abortion pill Mifegymiso.

Court dismisses anti-abortion group’s injunction request over Canada Summer Jobs funding

Source: Amanda Connolly | Global News

The Federal Court of Canada has dismissed a request by an anti-abortion group suing the government over changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program for an injunction barring the change from applying to applications submitted this year.

In a decision announced Tuesday evening, a judge ruled that the Toronto Right to Life Association did not meet the burden of proof required to qualify for an injunction against a rule, implemented by the government in December, that requires groups seeking funding through the Canada Summer Jobs program to sign an attestation stating that they respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights.

Those include reproductive rights, which the group has argued violate their right to freedom of belief and expression.

A full decision on the underlying challenge to the change has not yet been addressed.

The Canada Summer Jobs program is a vehicle for the federal government to subsidize the wages of businesses that hire youth between the ages of 15 and 30 for summer work.

Following a report by Global News and a series of reports by this reporter demonstrating how anti-abortion groups such as the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform were using the Canada Summer Jobs program to obtain public money for activities like hiring youth to display graphic placards of aborted fetuses, the government announced it would change the program by requiring employers to attest that they want to hire youth while respecting the rights of Canadians.

Conservative religious groups quickly accused the government of violating their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by requiring them to sign the attestation in order to submit an application for funding.

But this weekend, a group of more than 80 Canadian pro-choice and human rightsgroups signed an open letter coordinated by Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights and the National Association of Women and Law to federal leaders.

In it, the groups – including Oxfam Canada, YMCA Canada, and Egale Canada – applauded the decision to implement the attestation and stressed it does not force the groups that do not feel they can sign it to perform anything they do not want to, since there is no inherent right to federal grants.

The deadline for applications for funding under the 2018 Canada Summer Jobs program is Feb. 2. In her her ruling Tuesday evening, Federal Court Justice Martine St.-Louis said the Toronto Right to Life Association had failed to meet the three criteria laid out to request an emergency injunction against the change.

Those criteria are that applicants prove that a serious issue has been raised in their underlying application, that they will suffer irreparable harm if the stay is not granted, and that the balance of convenience, which examines the harm to the applicants and the respondent, as well as the public interest, favours them.

“First, on the serious issue, I do not agree with the parties on the applicable threshold,” St.-Louis wrote in what could signal a serious problem for the potential of the challenge itself.

She continued, however, noting that given she was ruling that the group also did not meet the other two criteria, she would “assume without deciding that a serious issue exists.”

She then went on to note that the Toronto Right to Life Association had not submitted “clear and convincing evidence” that they would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction were not to be granted, before also stating that it would be Employment Minister Patty Hajdu and the public interest that would suffer greater harm from the granting of a stay than would the group if their request was denied.

Canada Summer Jobs attestation endorsed by 80 Canadian rights groups

Source: Global News | Amanda Connolly

 

Eighty pro-choice and human rights groups including Oxfam Canada have signed an open letter applauding the government’s move to require all groups seeking funding through the Canada Summer Jobs program to sign an attestation stating they support Canadian constitutional rights as well as the right to reproductive choice.

Announced last month following a report by Global News, the attestation all groups seeking federal funding through the program are required to sign states that both the organizational mandate and duties of the job that will be funded through the grants respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights.

“These include reproductive rights, and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression,” the attestation states.

The change to the program — which is a vehicle for the government to subsidize summer employment of students between the ages of 15 and 30 who intend to return to school in the fall — specifically targets anti-gay and anti-abortion groups which use the program for activities such as displaying and distributing graphic posters of bloody fetuses.

Employment Minister Patty Hajdu
 has singled out the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, which has received tens of thousands of dollars through the program over the last several years, as an example of the kind of groups whose efforts to restrict the right of Canadian women to access abortion mean they should not be allowed to obtain federal funds.

While abortion is not listed as a right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Supreme Court ruled in 1988 that the law on the books at the time that restricted abortion was unconstitutional.

However, conservative religious groups have accused the government of violating their right to freedom of belief and freedom of conscience by requiring them to sign the attestation, which they say forces them to betray their beliefs.

An anti-abortion group launched a lawsuit at the Federal Court in December 2017, alleging the attestation requirement is a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, asking the court to reverse the change.

But in an open letter sent on Sunday to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and Bloc Quebecois Leader Martine Ouellet, and 80 pro-choice and human rights groups say they support the attestation.

“We are confident that the safeguards introduced to the CSJ program are not discriminatory, and do not represent any infringement on freedom of religion, conscience, or any other rights that people in Canada enjoy,” the letter states.

“The attestation does not force any organization or institutions to, for example, engage in work to promote access to abortion or perform same-sex marriage if they do not wish to do so. Nor does it require any individual employee in any organization to change their religious beliefs. These new safeguards are designed to ensure that federal grant monies are not used to fund discriminatory activities that undermine human rights, including as they relate to bodily autonomy, sexuality, gender identity and expression.”

Among those groups whose signatures are attached to the letter are Oxfam Canada, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, Catholics for Choice, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, Planned Parenthood Ottawa, the Canadian Arab Federation, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

Egale Canada, YMCA Canada and the University of Ottawa Centre for Health Law Policy & Ethics also signed the letter, as did rape crisis centres and university women’s centres from across the country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended the decision in recent weeks, including at a town hall earlier this month where he blasted anti-abortion groups as being out of sync with Canadian society.

He said the government will not fund any groups that actively seek to restrict women from accessing abortion.

An Open Letter Supporting Recent Changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau, Ms. May, Ms. Ouellet, Mr. Scheer, and Mr. Singh,

The undersigned organizations wholeheartedly support the recent changes made to the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program, which seek to secure greater fulfillment of human rights in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[1] We call on all political parties in Canada to do the same.

These changes align with Canada’s existing domestic and international human rights obligations, including to guarantee the right to security of the person, equality rights, the right to be free from discrimination (including discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression) and the right to access accurate, scientific and non-judgemental health information (including information related to safe abortion care).

Significant misinformation has been widely circulated in the media about the nature of the attestation that is now required by organizations that wish to apply for federal government grants for student jobs through the CSJ program. We are confident that the safeguards introduced to the CSJ program are not discriminatory, and do not represent any infringement on freedom of religion, conscience, or any other rights that people in Canada enjoy. The attestation does not force any organization or institutions to, for example, engage in work to promote access to abortion or perform same-sex marriage if they do not wish to do so. Nor does it require any individual employee in any organization to change their religious beliefs. These new safeguards are designed to ensure that federal grant monies are not used to fund discriminatory activities that undermine human rights, including as they relate to bodily autonomy, sexuality, gender identity and expression.

Federal government grants should not be used to undermine human rights, including the legal right to safe abortion (an essential medical procedure), which has long been recognized in Canada.[2]  Indeed, no government funding should be made available to any organization or for any activities that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or are meant to undermine women’s rights, equality rights or any other human rights.  In regards to abortion, which has dominated conversation regarding recent changes to the CSJ, groups that oppose the right to access safe abortion services[3] should not receive federal grants to create or disseminate misleading information, or support activities, centres, networks or facilities that work to restrict, control, or manipulate information people receive about abortion.

The provision of accurate, non-discriminatory, non-biased, scientific and evidence-based information on sexual and reproductive health is part of the right to sexual and reproductive health and rights as defined in international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In upholding this right, States must “refrain from censoring, withholding or intentionally misrepresenting health-related information…”[4] In addressing violations of this right, Canada, like all States, must take active steps to address barriers in access to sexual and reproductive health information that include biased counselling and the dissemination of misinformation.

The Government of Canada has a responsibility to ensure that its policies, programs and budgets respect, protect and fulfil human rights. There is, therefore, no justification for federal grant monies to be made available for any organizations or activities that undermine any human rights.

The changes made to the CSJ program are grounded in respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canada’s obligations under international human rights law. We welcome the steps taken to ensure that the rights of all people in Canada are protected and call on all political parties to support these changes.

The letter is open to sign-on from organizations across Canada (not individuals). If you are a Canadian organizations interested in signing the letter, please click here »

ORGANIZATIONAL SIGNATORIES

  1. Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
  2. National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL)
  3. Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
  4. Catholics for Choice Canada
  5. Oxfam Canada
  6. Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
  7. Fédération du Québec pour le Planning des Naissance (FQPN)
  8. Women’s Legal Education & Action Fund (LEAF)
  9. CATIE
  10. Alberta Society for the Promotion of Sexual Health
  11. Egale Canada Human Rights Trust
  12. YWCA Canada
  13. Canadian Health Coalition
  14. Trans Health Information Ottawa
  15. Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
  16. CARE Canada
  17. National Abortion Federation (NAF) Canada
  18. Thunder Bay Emergency Shelter House
  19. Women’s Network PEI
  20. Canadian Federation of Students
  21. SHORE Centre
  22. Abortion Support Services Atlantic
  23. HN Pro-Choice Coalition
  24. The Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity
  25. Women’s Wellness Within: An Organization Serving Criminalized Women
  26. Ten Oaks Project
  27. Pro-Choice Peterborough
  28. Media Action Media
  29. Well Woman Counselling
  30. Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada
  31. Women’s Human Rights Education Institute
  32. Alberta Pro-Choice Coalition
  33. Options for Sexual Health
  34. The Network of Black Business & Professional Women
  35. Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba
  36. Women and Gender Studies Department, University of Regina
  37. Sexual Health Lunenburg County
  38. Planned Parenthood Ottawa
  39. Abortion Access Now PEI
  40. PEI Abortion Rights Network
  41. Women’s Shelters Canada
  42. PEERS Alliance
  43. South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
  44. Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
  45. Ubuntu Ottawa
  46. Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development (ICAD)
  47. International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO)
  48. Positive Living North
  49. San Patten and Associates, Inc.
  50. Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change
  51. Social Rights Advocacy Centre
  52. HIV North Society
  53. Canadian Arab Federation
  54. Peel HIV/AIDS Network
  55. Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW)
  56. Saskatoon Sexual Health
  57. Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
  58. Health Initiative for Men (HIM)
  59. Ottawa Victim Services
  60. Society of Edmonton Atheists
  61. Kind Space
  62. Canadian Federation of University Women
  63. HIV / AIDS Legal Network
  64. Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (ORCC)
  65. Women of Halton Action Movement
  66. Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women
  67. Canadian Positive People Network
  68. Women’s College Hospital
  69. Inter Pares
  70. Sexuality Education Resource Centre (SERC)
  71. Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW)
  72. Canadian Women’s Foundation
  73. University of Ottawa Centre for Health Law Policy & Ethics
  74. Planned Parenthood Toronto
  75. Nelson House Ottawa-Carleton
  76. Oasis Centre des Femmes
  77. The Gender and Sexuality Resource Centre, Carleton University
  78. Sheet Harbour Sexual Health Centre
  79. Friends of Medicare (Alberta)
  80. Informed Choice Coalition
  81. Mothers of Change of the National Capital Region
  82. Calgary Sexual Health Centre
  83. WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre
  84. Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS)
  85. The AIDS Committee of Durham Region
  86. BullyingCanada Inc.
  87. Canadian Syrian Cultural Club
  88. Arabic Cultural Club of Ontario
  89. LGBT Youth Line
  90. S.O.S. Grossesse
  91. Réseau des Lesbiennes du Québec (RLQ)

MEDIA CONTACT
Ani Colekessian
613-241-4474 ext 7
[email protected]


[1] https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/canada-summer-jobs/supplementary-information.html

[2] The right to safe abortion care is legally protected in Canada. The 1988 Supreme Court of Canada decision R. v. Morgentaler, found that the existing legislation surrounding the regulation of abortion in Canada violated section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by infringing upon a woman’s right to security of the person. Hearing arguments using section 15 (equality) of the Charter in 1989, the SCC determined that the only individual that could make the choice of terminating a pregnancy was the woman in question and that no other individual had a legal say in a woman’s choice to either carry a pregnancy to completion or to have an abortion, further enshrining reproductive rights within the Canadian legal context.

[3] https://www.arcc-cdac.ca/CPC-study/list-anti-choice-groups.pdf

[4] UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 14 on the right to health, 2000.

Canada Summer Jobs program will no longer fund anti-abortion, anti-gay groups

Source: Amanda Connolly | Global News

The government is changing the rules around which employers can qualify for funding to hire students through the Canada Summer Jobs program to try and ensure that groups advocating against abortion rights or the equality of LGBTQ2 Canadians will not be able to get funding.

At the same time, the changes will seek to boost support for groups offering services and supports to the LGBTQ2 community as well as those offering opportunities to women in engineering and mathematics, Indigenous Canadians, immigrants and minority official language communities.

The change comes after a series of articles about Liberal and Conservative MPs approving tens of thousands of dollars in summer job grants to anti-abortion groups in their ridings during the 2016 program, despite the money being made available by a government that prominently branded itself as pro-choice.

Now the changes the government is making to the program will require groups applying for funding through the Canada Summer Jobs program to sign an attestation stating that their organizational mandate as well as the duties of the job they are seeking funding for respect human rights in Canada.

“To be eligible, applicants will have to attest that: both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights,” reads a PowerPoint presentation created to brief MPs on the new changes and shared with Global News.

“These include reproductive rights, and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.”

An April 2017 report found that anti-abortion groups in the Mississauga-Erin Mills riding of Liberal MP Iqra Khalid had received $56,000 in federal summer job grants in 2016.

In August 2017, a similar report found that anti-abortion groups in the riding of Rachael Harder, the Conservatives’ then-newly appointed status of women critic and Lethbridge MP, had received close to $12,000 in the same grants in 2016.

Government officials had said on background in April that Employment Minister Patty Hajdu was looking at options for how to change the program to prevent that from happening again and that anti-abortion groups in Liberal-held ridings would not be allowed to receive summer job grants through the 2017 program.

This change, eight months in the making, will go into effect for the 2018 program and apply to groups in ridings held by all MPs, regardless of party.

“The objective of the change is to prevent Government of Canada funding from flowing to organizations whose mandates or projects may not respect individual human rights, the values underlying the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and associated case law,” the briefing material states.

“Additionally, these changes help prevent youth (as young as 15 years of age) from being exposed to employment within organizations that may promote positions that are contrary to the values enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and associated case law. This change helps to ensure that youth job opportunities funded by the Government of Canada take place in an environment that respects the rights of all Canadians.”

In a statement to Global News, Hajdu said the change ensures that federal money will be used to create jobs that are meaningful and that will do a better job of giving youth relevant work experience that can translate into the real-world.

“Canada’s future prosperity depends on young Canadians getting the education and experience they’ll need to succeed in their careers, keeping our economy growing and our middle class thriving. That’s why, since our government was elected, we’ve doubled the number of Canada Summer Jobs per year compared to the previous government,” she said.

“Last spring I instructed my department officials to do a thorough review of the program, including funding criteria, in advance of this year’s call for proposals. As a result of the review, this year, CSJ applicants will be required to attest that both the job and the employer’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We’re focused on meaningful work experience for young people that will help grow the economy and strengthen the middle class.”

Advocate praises move but questions efficiency

It remains to be seen exactly how that attestation will be measured: for example, if an anti-abortion group signs the attestation, who is ultimately responsible for making sure that application is not approved and that funding is allocated to hire a student to hand out anti-abortion fliers?

Darrah Teitel, public affairs officer at Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, praised the decision to bring in the attestation but said there are questions over what more can be done and how effective the use of an attestation will be in weeding out groups that might just sign the attestation and hope they slip through the cracks.

“Action Canada believes that this is obviously a move in a positive direction. It’s something that abortion rights advocates have been asking for for an extremely long time so it’s gratifying to see the federal government finally take action on it,” she said, and also called for the government to go further and revoke the charitable status of groups that advocate against abortion or that are anti-gay.

“These organizations often disseminate false and intentionally misleading health information which means people are impacted when they try to seek reproductive and sexual health services.”

Some of the anti-abortion groups funded last year in Harder’s riding billed themselves as pregnancy care centres but refused to provide information on or referrals to clients seeking abortion, and were linked in to larger networks of religious organizations that actively advocate against access to abortion in Canada.

In the presentation made to MPs, the government notes that the changes will not make churches or religious and faith-based organizations themselves ineligible for the program, saying “that an organization is affiliated with a religion does not itself constitute ineligibility.”

LGBT, women among new program priorities

In addition, the government is setting out five core priority areas for the Canada Summer Jobs program this year to target specific types of work across the country.

Those priorities are to fund employers who intend to hire youth from underrepresented groups such as new immigrant youth and refugees, Indigenous youth, youth with disabilities and visible minorities, as well as to fund jobs through small businesses and organizations that support opportunities in official language minority communities.

Organizations that provide services and supports for the LGBTQ2 community will also be a priority under the 2018 program, as will organizations that provide jobs in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as information and communications technology, and particularly those opportunities that go to women.

Women are consistently underrepresented in STEM fields: only one in four university graduates in computer science and math are women, while in engineering that number is one in five.

How does the program work?

Groups looking to secure funding can apply as of Tuesday until Feb. 2, 2018, and applications will be assessed by Service Canada officials between February and March.
In March, tentative lists of groups recommended to receive funding will be drawn up and sent to MPs for validation, at which point the MP can recommend funding for more or fewer jobs through the group, as well as whether to fund them at all.

Service Canada will then make the final approval, and any changes recommended by MPs will be made available to Canadians under access to information laws.

Groups will receive notification of whether they are approved to get funding in April 2018.

The Canada Summer Jobs program is a federal program that allows not-for-profit organizations to get funding to cover up to 100 per cent of the cost of hiring Canadians between the ages of 15 and 30 for temporary, full-time summer work.

Public-sector and private-sector employers can get funding to cover up to 50 per cent of those costs through the program.

MPs play a large role in determining local priorities and validating the lists of recommended projects drawn up and sent to them for validation by Service Canada.

Those lists have historically been based on what was funded the year before.

Each year, the program has $107.5 million to disperse but in 2016, the government announced it would provide an extra $113 million per year for three years to effectively double the size of the program and the number of jobs it can fund for young Canadians.

That additional funding expires in 2018 unless it is renewed in the next budget.

This holiday season, will you be the change?

We’re at a defining moment for reproductive rights in Canada. And you are an important part of history in the making.

The progress made through the campaign for better access to Mifegymiso (the abortion pill) has put issues of abortion access back into public discourse and continues to create major opportunities to address historical inequalities. Action Canada is taking a leadership role through the campaign and our influence among decision-makers is growing. Will you join us?

Right now what lies before the leaders of this country is a choice. It’s a choice between whether Canada is going to resolve the long-standing barriers to access in our country or accept the status quo. If things don’t change, abortion will remain largely a privilege for folks in urban centres close the US border.

Mifegymiso has the potential to change all this. It holds the promise of access to abortion within every community – urban, rural or remote.

We’re getting closer. But we have a long way to go! Provinces have signed on to provide cost coverage of Mifegymiso, but the rollout has been uninspiring at best,  despite government pledges and commitments.

Will you help? Every dollar is a step forward.

As a supporter your help goes both “upstream” to address the barriers standing  in the way and “downstream” to support the very people who face challenges in accessing services, stigma-free support, and objective fact-based information.

Now is not the time to rest! Every day we here about anti-choice
politicians in the media, provinces staying silent on abortion
access, and myths about abortion and contraception.

Policy shifts in the US are being felt around the world with funding losses and legal changes that eliminate women and trans people’s right to choose.

After 30+ years we are closer than ever to abortion being a readily available medical service without stigma, where people have full autonomy (fully have the right to choose what happens to them and their body). Bodily autonomy is central to human rights work. And human rights are central to the work we do.

On Action Canada’s Access Line, we hear from countless folks, mostly younger or lower income women, who are seeking access to abortion and cannot find these services in their own communities. They are forced to travel sometimes hundreds of kilometers, often having to raise the travel funds themselves from family and friends, while negotiating the multiple barriers or gatekeepers in the way of access to services that are fundamental to rights!

Our Emergency Fund helps people in Canada access abortion, people who otherwise wouldn’t have access despite almost 30 years since the Morgentaler decision! There is so much demand that each year the fund is still drawn down to $0.

We need your support to be able to offer access *right now* and we need your support to continue the fight to make barriers obsolete.

Thirty years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed that the abortion provision in the Criminal Code violated people’s rights. Strong advocates across the country rallied together to remove senseless barriers, advocates that have been working on this issue for 30+ years!

Action Canada carries this rich history in the work of our predecessor organizations who saw sexual and reproductive rights advocacy through crucial times in the past: Canadian Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL), Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada (PPFC), Canadians for Choice (CFC), Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (CFSH), and Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD). We remain committed to their vision and are grounded by the real stories of real people who come to us daily.

The path to change has been shaped by the courage and determination of activists, health care advocates and feminists. We keep rising to the ongoing challenge, adding our own energy and expertise. We want Canada to be a leader in sexual and reproductive health and rights and Action Canada brings lifetimes of expertise as well as a network of dedicated supporters, experts, and advocates to the table.

This year, you have been a part of the tidal wave of support that led to real changes in the landscape of access in Canada. You have helped push Health Canada to drop the unnecessary regulations that were curbing access to the drug. Together we rallied activists, politicians and the medical community, wrote letters, got petitions into the House of Commons, navigated the lack of national pharmacare and shot for the stars by advocating for universal cost coverage for the abortion pill. We leveraged expertise on sexual health and rights across the country, engaged our elected officials at ministerial meetings and made sure the media and the public were kept informed! We worked “upstream” and “downstream” at the same time for #RealAccessNow!

We are building on the momentum in the fight for reproductive health and rights! And your support is urgently needed! Your gifts help us continue to knock down barriers that stand in the way of access to services and information people need to make decisions that are the right for them. It helps fight the “downstream” barriers people face in real time every day, like being unable to pay for a train ticket, and the “upstream” that exist today, like holding provinces accountable to their promises for increased access and choice.

Canada’s provinces have made promises to make access more equitable. Canada’s international assistance policy has declared itself feminist. After years of education, advocacy, and public health research the picture upstream is changing but the promise of choice, autonomy, and access will take real work to be felt downstream.

This next year we need to keep up with the effort! With your help we can see this year’s promises realized.

Our campaigning work needs support so that we can push the hold-out provinces and territories to commit to universal cost coverage of the gold standard of medical abortion (as other jurisdictions have done). We need to work to ensure that doctors and nurse practitioners are supported to start prescribing Mifegymiso and that midwives are empowered too. Without such support, we will fall short of realizing rural and remote access and a vision where abortion is available in all communities across Canada.

What else are we doing to keep up the pressure for #RealAccessNow? With your support, we can replicate the win in Ontario with Bubble Zone legislation across the country to ensure that new and existing abortion providers are protected as they provide abortion care. And we can ensure all people, including federal patients and uninsured folks, have access to the care they need.

You can take additional action to help build the national sexual and reproductive health and rights movement today. 

Because he believes in our work, a generous donor is matching every new dollar donated until the end of the year by three! That means, your dollar has the power of $4. Please share our Facebook and Twitter posts about the donor match with people who, like you, believe that all people should be able to make choices about their bodies that are right for them!

When I last spoke to him about the donation, here’s what he said:

For years I’ve been haunted by the “upstream story,” famous in public health circles and credited to Irving Zola. He tells the story of a person who sees and rescues a series of drowning people caught in a river current. Finally, the individual goes upstream to investigate why so many people are falling into the river in the first place, but in the process, people continue to drown. Action Canada works “upstream” and “downstream” by providing direct support through the Access Line and emergency funds for people with lower income who have to travel in order to access the care they need, by helping resource professionals with stigma-free and factual information, and by shaping policy and systems to address deep systemic challenges in sexuality and reproduction. From the global to the local, change is needed. Advocates and health professionals around the world are making ground through a sexual and reproductive health and rights movement that we can be a part of.

Will you join him in supporting this vital work? Please give what you can today.

As we near the 30th anniversary of the Morgentaler decision it is time to ensure the right to choose is truly available to all, regardless of income tax bracket or postal code.

 

This #GivingTuesday will you support the right to choose?

Fighting for the right to choose what happens to our own bodies, for stigma-free fact based information, and for health systems that empower and support individuals! We answer daily calls on the Access Line, help women and trans folk access our Emergency Travel Fund, are prepping for Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week in Feb, planning with the United Nations Population Fund for the State of World Population report launch and UN Under-Secretary-General visit next week, and promoting Beyond the Basics – a resource that helps teachers teach sex-ed! We’ve been busy! Join us in advancing human rights and equity in sexual and reproductive health and rights today. Until the end of the year each new donor dollar will be matched by three more, meaning your $1 has the power of $4! Click the video above to learn more about the intersections of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Sexual health and rights are human rights!

Click here to donate today!