Ottawa’s delayed LGBTQ action plan coming ‘later this year,’ minister says

The federal government has blown past its own promised deadline to complete the country’s first LGBTQ2S+ action plan, but the minister overseeing it says it will be delivered “later this year.”

During last summer’s election campaign, the Liberals promised to complete the plan within the first 100 days of forming a new government. Last week’s budget committed $100 million over five years toward its implementation, but community organizations are left to wonder how the money will be spent.

Women and Gender Equality Minister Marci Ien said she’s continuing consultations, and cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for the delay.

“I want to be slow — not too slow obviously — but steady, and listen to everybody that I can because I want this to work. I want it to work well because quite frankly, lives are on the line,” Ien told the Star.

“I don’t want to sit there and speak for the community when I’m not living and experiencing what they are.”

Ien said she couldn’t get into details on what the $100 million will be spent on, given that the budget still needs to pass the House of Commons. She described her ministry as the “glue” that touches every other department. For example, she said the plan could include LGBTQ2S+-specific housing initiatives, or community-targeted health-care funding.

“It’s up to us to come together as cabinet colleagues and work on plans that will work for the community,” she said.

The government already conducted consultations on the plan last year, including an online survey that drew responses from more than 25,000 LGBTQ2S+ people, as well as roundtable discussions.

Almost 40 per cent of people who participated in the online survey reported being subjected to violence due to homophobia, biphobia or transphobia in the last five years, most of it verbal or online.

Transgender respondents were most likely to report being denied employment due to their gender identity, and to face difficulty in accessing housing due to discrimination.

Not only is the plan “very late,” but its scope remains vague, said New Democrat MP Randall Garrison, his party’s critic on LGBTQ2S+ issues.

“So there’s no clarity on the scope of the plan, no clarity on what’s in the plan, and very late on actually producing the plan with real action in it, which is what people are worried won’t happen,” Garrison said.

The NDP would like to see the plan include the creation of a special envoy who would defend LGBTQ2S+ rights internationally, Garrison said.

Ien said she’s open to all ideas, including exploring the feasibility of an endowment fund that would ensure permanent and stable funding for organizations that serve the community. It’s a key demand from the Enchanté Network, which is made up of nearly 200 LGBTQ2S+ organizations across the country.

“It would require significant initial investment, but it would also allow for the ethical income generated from that investment to provide a type of core funding for queer and trans organizations forever,” said Tyler Boyce, the network’s executive director.

The executive director of the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity described the $100 million commitment as the “bare minimum” that was achieved through advocacy by the community, but said it’s difficult to celebrate given that it’s unclear how the funds will be spent.

Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah said she hopes to see supports for LGBTQ2S+ seniors included in the action plan, and said she also wants to know more about the consultations themselves, and how reflective they were of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

“Yes it feels nice to be recognized in the budget, but it also feels like, ‘Here’s a little something, aren’t you so happy for it?’ I don’t think we should be celebrating crumbs as a sector,” she said.

“The message is we need more structured funding for this sector, because the work that we do is absolutely life-saving.”


Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

Source link

About milonshil

Check Also

When is a political candidate’s past just too much to ignore?

When should a political candidate be ousted by a party for something they did in …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.