Senate committee to study extent of forced sterilization across Canada

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OTTAWA — The Senate’s human rights committee is launching a study about the coerced sterilization of Indigenous women.

Senators on the committee say they want to hold meetings and hear from victims to ensure their experiences are shared “so that nobody else is forced into abandoning all hope of having a child.”

The study is intended to determine the scope of the problem and identify people who may have been affected.

The Senate’s time for a study is short with only a few months before Parliament’s work comes to a halt for the federal election.

Still senators expect to be able to deliver a short report before the summer and make recommendations for further areas to investigate.

It is at least the third federal probe of the problem, with a House of Commons committee also studying it, and the federal government working with the provinces and territories to discuss how women, particularly Indigenous women, are being pressured or forced into the surgery.

The Saskatoon Health Authority publicly apologized in 2017 after Indigenous women came forward to say they were coerced into tubal ligations. A proposed class-action lawsuit was subsequently filed against the province of Saskatchewan, the federal government, regional health authorities, and individual doctors.

Last fall, the firm leading the case said 100 women have come forward to report they have been forcibly sterilized, including about 40 after The Canadian Press published a story in November detailing a push from Ontario Sen. Yvonne Boyer to study the issue nationally.