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.

Just Posted

Vernon Montessori students re-gift to raise funds

Holiday Gift Shop fundraiser supports Project Christmas Elf, teaches sustainability

Sagmoen’s lawyer argues ‘abuse of power’ in police search

The trial of Curtis Sagmoen continued at the Vernon Law Courts on Friday

Vernon’s All Saints Church sets table for less fortunate

Fifth annual Festive Street Lunch will take place at All Saints’ Church tomorrow

Plug pulled on Vernon Light Up

Downtown Vernon Association announces it will no longer co-ordinate the annual event

Campaign to collect backpacks for Vernon’s less fortunate extended

Upper Room Mission has extended its Blessings in a Backpack campaign to Dec. 20

VIDEO: More air-passenger rights go into effect this weekend

The first set of passenger rights arrived in mid-July in Canada

Swoop airlines adds three destinations in 2020 – Victoria, Kamloops, San Diego

Low-fair subsidiary of WestJet Airlines brings new destinations in April 2020

Aid a priority for idled Vancouver Island loggers, John Horgan says

Steelworkers, Western Forest Products returning to mediation

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

Vernon’s All Saints’ Chruch hosts Lessons and Carols

Sing and learn and enjoy refreshments this Saturday

MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: Three amigos take on Trump

Boris Johnson, Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron talk U.S. president at NATO meeting

Penticton resident allegedly has rear car tires stolen

The resident woke up today to find their back tires missing and their car on blocks

Woman struck, dog killed after collision on Highway 97

Speed is not believed to be a factor and alcohol has been ruled out

Funding sought for family of 15-year-old Summerland girl with cancer

Treatment will involve two weeks in hospital, followed by eight to 10 weeks recovery at home

Most Read