Minister Monsef’s remarks for the funding announcement to Planned Parenthood Ottawa

Speech

March 6, 2017 - Ottawa, Ontario

Check against delivery

Before I begin, I’d like to recognize the Algonquin Nation, on whose traditional territory we are gathering.

It is an honour to join you today for this important announcement that will make a real difference in the lives of women in this community and their families.

First, let me say thank you to our hosts - everyone at Planned Parenthood Ottawa including the staff, volunteers, and supporters.

Since 1964, Planned Parenthood has served this community and made it a better place to live.

Through education, counselling, and information services, you continue to support the sexual and reproductive health of so many in this community.

We all know that sexual and reproductive health and rights are fundamental.  

But for these rights to be fully realized, women must be able to live a life free of violence in any form.

This includes ending the practice of sexual or reproductive coercion in a relationship.

That’s why I’m honoured to announce that Planned Parenthood Ottawa is receiving $285,000 in Government of Canada funding for a new project here in the Ottawa area.

This funding will support a three-year project to improve services for women who have experienced gender-based violence that disregards their reproductive rights.

This project will be particularly focused on addressing issues of sexual and reproductive coercion (SRC).

It is based in beliefs we share: 

  • that no human being should have their sexual health or reproductive rights diminished or compromised by another person,
  • and that no woman should be forced into pregnancy, abortion, or unhealthy sexual practices of any kind.

This project will strengthen the collaboration among key local stakeholders, including a range of service providers that address violence against women, and women’s health issues.

The goal is to develop and implement an interagency protocol and set of guidelines to identify and respond to this form of violence in the Ottawa area.

In turn, this will help to ensure women’s control over their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

A community of practice will be established to facilitate ongoing knowledge-exchange among the service providers.

And the project will also involve the development of a national strategy to disseminate information, materials, and support within targeted communities across Canada.

Our reason for taking this action today is clear.

When a woman or girl is not safe in her community, home, or workplace, it becomes impossible for her to reach her full potential.

The toll on her family can be just as devastating.

Without action, the effects can become intergenerational.

In so many ways, gender-based violence remains one of the most significant barriers to achieving gender equality.

We can and must do more to create hopeful futures for women - whether it’s by working on the front lines of service delivery like many of you, or in Parliament and within government as I am doing.

The project we are announcing today brings these efforts together.

It is part of the Government of Canada’s multifaceted approach to dealing with gender-based violence which still affects far too many women in our communities.

The federal government has met its commitment to establish a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

It will examine and report on the systemic causes behind the violence that Indigenous women and girls experience, and their greater vulnerability to that violence, by looking for patterns and underlying factors that explain why higher levels of violence occur.

Through Status of Women Canada, we are investing in a project by the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters & Transition Houses to examine the multiple roles played by the shelter sector in supporting women who are victims of violence.

Budget 2016 committed significant resources to ensuring that women fleeing violence and their families have somewhere to turn in their hour of need by improving access to shelter and transition housing.

And finally, one of the priority actions of the government is to develop a federal strategy to address gender-based violence, which we expect to be released in the coming weeks.

Where do we hope our collective work leads us?

To a place where feminism is not a bad word; where we change the culture of patriarchy that too often persists; where strict gender roles are not normalized; and where gender-based violence is never tolerated.

Challenging the status quo has never been an easy task.

There is almost always resistance.

But thankfully, our history contains countless examples of strong-willed women taking up important causes to make progress for themselves, their daughters, and granddaughters.

And we continue to have so many who are willing to face challenges, including all of you, working to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights for women.

I have great faith that this project we are embarking on today under the leadership of Planned Parenthood Ottawa will be a real change maker in the lives of women in this community and their families.

The result will be a safer Ottawa and a more equal Canada.

I wish you every success with this project.

Thank you. Merci

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