Canada’s Upcoming CEDAW Review

Posted on October, 20 2016 by Action Canada

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights will be in Geneva next week to participate in Canada’s review before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

The Committee is made up of 23 independent experts that monitor implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Countries party to the Convention (like Canada) are obligated to submit reports to and undergo periodic reviews by the Committee, outlining steps taken to implement rights in the Convention. Canada’s last review before the Committee took place in 2008.

In preparation for the review, Action Canada submitted a joint report to the Committee in collaboration with: Sexuality Education Resources Centre Manitoba, Sexual Health Centre Saskatoon, Sexual Health Nova Scotia, Pictou County Centre for Sexual Health, SHORE Centre, and Calgary Sexual Health Centre.

The report focuses on violations of Articles 10 (right to education) and 12 (right to health) of the Convention. Specific issues raised in Action Canada’s report include:

  • the provision of comprehensive sexuality education,
  • access to a comprehensive package of sexual and reproductive health information and services (including safe abortion services),
  • the denial of sexual and reproductive health care on moral or religious grounds,
  • the health and safety of sex workers and
  • the criminalization of the non-disclosure of HIV.

The report demonstrates the Government of Canada’s failure to take measures to address violations under the Convention, despite having the responsibility and authority to do so.

In advance of Canada’s review, the Committee asked the Government of Canada to provide information on measures taken to ensure:

  • access to a comprehensive and integrated package of quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, consistent with international human rights standards, across all provinces and territories, including for women and girls living in rural or remote regions as well as Indigenous women and migrant women, regardless of their legal status, African-Canadian women and women with disabilities;
  • the exercise of conscientious objection by health professionals does not impede effective access for women to reproductive health care services, including access to legal abortion and post-abortion services;
  • age-appropriate sexual and reproductive education is provided in all schools; and
  • full and unhindered access to health care for women…affected by sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.

Click here for the complete list of issues

Responses by the Government of Canada include:

  • There are no legal restrictions to abortion in Canada. Access to abortion and related services are considered medically necessary procedures under the Canada Health Act, regulated by P/T governments as a health and medical matter and funded under P/T health insurance plans.
  • All P/T governments offer access to SRH services including to women and girls living in rural or remote regions, Indigenous women, migrant women (regardless of their legal status), African Canadian women, and women with disabilities. Examples of additional targeted measures include:
    • Manitoba’s Healthy Sexuality Action Plan provides direction to government, regional health authorities, and community health and social service agencies to address poor sexual health outcomes for populations most adversely affected. Priority populations include youth, sexual and gender minorities, First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, refugee and newcomer populations, and older adults.
    • In British Columbia, the First Nations Health Authority aims to improve geographic and equitable access to culturally competent, holistic and wellness focused health prevention and promotion services, including reproductive health. The province’s ACCESS clinic at the BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre provides women with disabilities with pelvic exams, contraceptive advice, menstrual management, sexually transmitted infections screening, among other referral services.
  • Examples of measures established to ensure that the exercise of conscientious objection by health professionals does not impede effective access to abortion include:
    • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s Professional Obligations and Human Rights policy, sets out physicians’ professional and legal obligations to provide health services without discrimination and includes expectations for physicians who limit the health services they provide because of their personal values and beliefs, such as effective referral to another health care provider.
    • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia’s Professional Standards and Guidelines regarding access to medical care sets out expectations for physicians who make personal choices not to provide a treatment or procedure based on their values and beliefs. The province offers a provincial-wide toll-free telephone line for health care providers and patients regarding unplanned or unwanted pregnancy; this line also provides referrals for women seeking pregnancy termination. Age-appropriate sexual education
  • The following are examples of age-appropriate sexual education, which is being offered in schools across the country:
    • Ontario’s updated Health and Physical Education Curriculum (Grade 1 to Grade 12) includes a comprehensive sexual education component adapted to the age and development of students.
    • Nova Scotia’s Sex? -A Healthy Sexuality Resource for grade 7 students and Manitoba’s Growing up OK puberty resource for children aged 9-12 provide comprehensive sexual health and human sexuality information, including on gender identity.
    • Alberta Health Services’ teachingsexualhealth.ca offers sexual health teachers and educators evidence-based sexual health information. The site, which is recognized as an authorized teaching resource by Alberta Education, offers lesson plans for public school teachers, grades 4 to 12, online teacher workshops, fact sheets, videos and a parent portal.
    • In Quebec, the Mosaïk project offers education tools to promote a healthy and responsible sexuality among youth in a school context.
  • Governments offer a range of SRH information and public health programs and services. For example:
    • In British Columbia, Healthlink BC provides 24/7 telehealth services and online resources available across the province related to kamagra 100mg sexual and reproductive health, including specific resources on contraception.
    • Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and British Columbia fund sexual health clinics, including youth clinics, which offer services such as testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted blood-borne infections, reproductive health information and supplies as well as referrals to other requires health and social services.

Click here to read the complete response

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women is one of the many ways in which Action Canada is using the international human rights framework to hold the Government of Canada accountable in ensuring that everyone under Canada’s jurisdiction has access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services and information they are entitled to as part of their human rights.

Canada’s review will take place from 10:00AM to 1:00PM GMT+2 (4:00AM-7:00AM EST) on Tuesday, 25 October. A live webcast of Canada’s review will be available on UN Web TV. Select Human Rights Treaty Bodies > Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women > 65th session.

Follow @Action_Canada for a live tweet of the review and join the discussion using the hashtag #Rights4cdnWomen