Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

The Liberals have been pressed for a rapid response to recent reports on the sterilizations

The federal Liberals are turning to a broad group of officials — from provinces, territories, Indigenous groups and medical organizations — for solutions to mounting allegations from Indigenous women that they were victims of coerced and forced sterilizations.

Valerie Gideon, a senior assistant deputy minister in the Indigenous Services Department, told a Commons committee on Monday that two cabinet ministers are co-signing a letter to their provincial and territorial counterparts outlining the plans to discuss cultural safety in medicine.

RELATED: Feds reject push to amend Criminal Code to outlaw forced sterilization

The Liberals have been pressed for a rapid response to recent reports on the sterilizations, which dozens of women say have been inflicted on them against their will when they gave birth.

Coerced sterilization amounts to a violation of human rights and medical ethics, Gideon told the committee, noting it is also a form of gender-based violence.

“Sterilization is not something that any one profession or order of government can address alone,” she said.

“Federal, provincial, territorial, Indigenous governments and organizations all have a role to play.”

Doctors and those who regulate the profession must be involved, she added, saying sterilization is a “matter of the practice of medicine” and that only surgical practitioners can perform procedures such as tubal ligations.

Last week, the United Nations Committee Against Torture said Canada must stop the “extensive forced or coerced sterilization” of Indigenous women and girls in Canada, adding all allegations must be impartially investigated.

In question period Monday, NDP MP Romeo Saganash pushed Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott to detail what the Liberal government will do to implement the UN recommendations, including holding people accountable, providing redress for the victims and adopting legislative policy measures to outlaw forced sterilization.

In response, Philpott said the government is working to make sure “this never happens again.”

She also stressed Ottawa will work with provinces, territories, health providers and medical associations to make sure the “concept of informed consent is well understood and that culturally safe care is also well taught.”

Tubal ligations carried out on unwilling Indigenous women is one of the “most heinous” practices in health care happening across Canada, according to Ontario Sen. Yvonne Boyer, a Metis lawyer and former nurse.

In 2017, Boyer and Metis physician and researcher Dr. Judith Bartlett produced a report on Indigenous women who were coerced into tubal ligations — the severing, burning or tying of the Fallopian tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus — after childbirth in the Saskatoon Health Region.

The region subsequently apologized.

RELATED: Examine ‘monstrous’ allegations of forced sterilization of Indigenous women: NDP

Some Indigenous women interviewed for the report felt pushed into signing consent forms for the procedures while they were in active labour or on operating tables, Boyer said. Last year, two of the affected women launched a class-action lawsuit against the Saskatoon Health Region.

The proposed class action led by lawyer Alisa Lombard and her firm Maurice Law names the Saskatoon Health Authority, the Saskatchewan government, the federal government and a handful of medical professionals as defendants.

More women have since come forward to disclose their experience with coerced sterilization.

About 100 women have now come forward to report they have been forcibly sterilized, Lombard said — an additional 40 women since The Canadian Press published a story in November detailing Boyer’s push to study the issue nationally.

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

Chilliwack man hoping to restore ‘59 Chevy with big lottery win

Hervey Blois, a retired veteran, says he’s ‘dumbstruck’ by $500,000 win on lottery website

SD78 board: Cautious optimism, anxiety mix as school year begins

To say it’s been an eventful two months for Superintendent Balan Moorthy… Continue reading

Defence in Fraser Valley chicken abuse cases asks BC Supreme Court to drop the charges

Sofina Foods and Chilliwack company say undercover video by ‘vigilante group’ violates Charter rights

Fraser Health confirms expanded COVID-19 testing services coming

Long lines, several days waiting list as demand for testing surges in region

Two new candidates for Chilliwack-Kent riding

B.C. NDP and B.C. Greens announce candidates to run against incumbent Throness

No safe mask option for bearded members, RCMP says, but force is exploring solutions

RCMP says respirator not mandatory in all front-line situations, but sometimes needed to reduce risk

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

TransLink CEO asks riders not to enforce mask rules after Surrey bus punch-up

A fight broke out on a bus at 96 Avenue and Scott Road involving a man who refused to wear a mask

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read