Message from the Minister of Health, the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, and Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth – Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week
February 14, 2023 | Ottawa, Ontario | Public Health Agency of Canada
February 13 – 17 marks Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week in Canada to raise awareness and promotes resources. Sexual and reproductive health touches all aspects of our health and wellbeing, including physical health, mental health, social participation, family planning, fertility and abortion care, menstrual equity, care of sexual and reproductive organs, and the freedom to be who we are.
Sexual and reproductive health also means being informed, having a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, understanding consent, and setting personal boundaries. Yet, many people hesitate to access sexual and reproductive health services because of shame and stigma around sexuality.
Despite being largely preventable, treatable, and in many cases curable, sexually transmitted infections (STI), including infectious and congenital syphilis, continue to be a significant public health concern in Canada. Ensuring people have access to methods of prevention, testing and treatment, and making sure that these resources are reaching those who need them most is an important priority for our government. This is outlined in the Pan-Canadian Framework for Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infections (STBBI) and our Five Year Action Plan on STBBI.
Our government remains committed to confronting the stigma and discrimination that sometimes surrounds sexual and reproductive health. At the AIDS 2022 conference, Canada formally endorsed the global declaration and call to action on Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U). U=U challenges stigma as it communicates the scientific consensus that HIV cannot be sexually transmitted when a person living with HIV and who takes medication has an undetectable viral load.
To support community-based organizations and projects that are at the front-line in preventing infections and improving access to STBBI treatment and care, our government invested $33.4 million under the HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund and the Harm Reduction Fund.
Culturally-safe, easily accessible sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion care is essential to ensuring that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, age, socio-economic status or physical ability, deserves to have equitable access to the services they need.
In 2019, our government expanded access to Mifegymiso (the abortion pill) and made it available without an ultrasound to improve access in remote and rural communities. We also invested $45 million over 3 years, beginning in 2021, to support projects to improve access to care for underserved populations by removing barriers to vital abortion services and offer accurate reproductive health information to people in Canada. Furthermore, to better understand the challenges specific populations face in accessing care, we are also funding a Statistics Canada survey on sexual and reproductive health.
Additionally, menstrual products are essential to upholding sexual and reproductive health rights. Unfortunately, too many Canadian women, girls, trans, and non-binary people struggle to afford these basic necessities. Lack of access, along with period stigma and shame, make it hard for people to fully participate in school, work, and other aspects of public life. The government has committed $25 million over 2 years to establish a national pilot for a Menstrual Equity Fund that will help make menstrual products available to Canadians in need and bolster education programs to increase awareness about menstruation.
Through the Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan we are also protecting trans and non-binary people – as well as 2SLGBTQI+ communities more broadly – through strategic funding. Additionally, we have banned conversion therapy, added gender identity and expression into the Canadian Human Rights Act and are providing protection under hate crimes legislation.
This week – and every week, get informed, seek out the care you need to support your health, and make sexual and reproductive healthcare part of your health routine.
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Marci Ien, P.C., M.P.
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth
Women and Gender Equality Canada
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