Speaking Notes for The Honourable Patricia A. Hajdu, P.C., M.P. Minister of Status of Women It's Never Okay: 2015 Summit on Sexual Violence and Harassment


November 19, 2015
Toronto, Ontario


Thank you for that kind introduction.


Il me fait plaisir d’être parmi vous ce matin.

I am honoured to be a part of this event. It is a real pleasure to share this space with so many of you who have dedicated your careers and your lives to ending violence against women and girls.

I really enjoyed the panel discussion that just took place. It is so inspiring to see the amazing work that young activists are doing. Listening to you speak, I am reminded that it is you – the people working on the front line – who are making a real difference in the lives of women and girls.

I know, from my own experience as the Executive Director of a homeless shelter, the hugely important role that grassroots activists and community organizations play in advocating for change. I know that it is a path of enormous challenges and small victories and I applaud you for everything you do.

I am looking at those challenges from a new perspective now. And although the view is different, I believe that the government also has an important job to do in addressing complex problems like gender-based violence.

As Minister of Status of Women, I want to ensure that what we do at the federal level supports and enhances the outstanding work that you do, here in Ontario and in communities across Canada.

Government of Canada Commitment

We are all familiar with the broad scope of this problem.

While Canada is fundamentally a safe and peaceful nation, gender-based violence – including sexual violence and harassment – is a fact of life in our country that we must change.

We know, for example, that women and girls from all walks of life experience violence — young women, women with disabilities, Indigenous women and immigrants, to name a few. We must consider the unique needs and experiences of these groups to find effective solutions.

For its part, the Government of Canada is fully committed to keeping all women and girls safe and to protect their rights.

Here is our plan.

First, we will work with experts and advocates to develop and implement a comprehensive federal gender violence strategy and action plan. This action plan will be aligned with existing provincial strategies.

Second, we will work to ensure that no one fleeing domestic violence is left without a place to turn by making investments in Canada’s network of shelters and transition houses as part of our broader investment in social infrastructure.

Third, we will ensure that Status of Women Canada continues reaching out to organizations that can collaborate on unique projects at the national, regional, and community levels that help reduce and prevent violence.

Finally, we will show leadership. We will work to spread the message that violence against women and girls is – to borrow a phrase from the Government of Ontario – “never okay”.

SWC’s #EndViolence Campaign

Organizations across the country and various levels of government have been reaching out to Canadians with inspiring campaigns aimed at engaging them in preventing violence against women.

Ontario’s #WhoWillYouHelp campaign is a prime example of this.

One of the things I think we can do at the federal level is to use our reach to rally more Canadians to this very important cause.

That is why, as we approach November 25th and the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, the Government of Canada is urging all Canadians to take an online pledge to #EndViolence at women.gc.ca.

By taking this pledge, men, women, boys and girls can make a personal commitment to making Canada safer for all of us.

Our hope is that the #EndViolence campaign will help draw attention to the wide range of anti-violence work that is already underway and increase public support for lasting solutions.


The journey towards ending violence against women and girls is not an easy one – it is long and challenging – but it is possible.

Events like this one are an important step along that journey. They are an opportunity to unite around a common purpose, to share ideas and success stories, and to reaffirm our commitment to meeting this challenge.

By continuing to work together – as both individuals and organizations, across all sectors of society and all levels of government – I am confident that we can eliminate violence against women and girls, once and for all.

Thank you very much.


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