Evidence of meeting #138 for Health in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was gay.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Travis Salway  Post-doctoral Research Fellow, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, As an Individual
Alex Abramovich  Independent Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, As an Individual
Greg Oudman  Executive Director, Health Initiative for Men
Tristan Coolman  President, Pflag York Region

April 9th, 2019 / 5 p.m.

President, Pflag York Region

Tristan Coolman

I can make a quick comment on conversion therapy.

There have been some comments made today about it being out of the scope of the federal government. One thing I want to mention is that, if you leave it up to the provinces, you're creating your own inequity with it. Everyone needs to play by the same rules. A federal ban is going to reinforce that support for the community and hold everyone who practices this fraud accountable.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

I was wondering if anyone could comment on health outcomes for people who are lesbian and issues that they face in the health care system.

5:05 p.m.

Post-doctoral Research Fellow, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, As an Individual

Dr. Travis Salway

I can briefly speak to what we've seen in the Canadian community health survey, which are higher rates of the mental health outcomes we talked about affecting lesbian and bisexual women than heterosexual women.

There is ongoing research in the United States that suggests that sexual minority women are at higher risk for some physical health outcomes. We don't have the data here in Canada to evaluate that. For instance, the Canadian community health survey only asks sexual orientation for people up to age 59.

We do have other physical health surveys, like the Canadian health measures survey, but they don't include measures of sexual orientation or gender identity. It very well may be that some of those physical health ailments occur at higher rates in lesbian and bisexual women, but we don't have the data to show it.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

I just have 30 seconds, I think, by my own calculations.

How should we collect that data? Who should be collecting that data?

5:05 p.m.

Post-doctoral Research Fellow, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, As an Individual

Dr. Travis Salway

I would start with Statistics Canada because it has several national surveys that measure health-related outcomes. I think there's already work under way, but it could broaden the consultations to understand what specific measures should be added. There need to be, as we've alluded to, multiple measures.

5:05 p.m.

Independent Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, As an Individual

Dr. Alex Abramovich

Yes, I would say that any of the health surveys that collect demographic information should be collecting this data. In any survey that has the question of male or female, we have to actually add more inclusive gender identity questions, as well as sexual orientation questions. I don't think it's just one.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

Now we go to Mr. Davies.

You have three minutes.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

One thing that I'm hearing loud and clear is that stigma and discrimination is a serious problem in the LGBTQ2S world. We know there's a ban on blood donation by men who have sex with men, and there doesn't appear to be any valid scientific basis for it. I know there was a promise by the Liberals in the last election that they would eliminate the five-year ban. They have not done that. They've reduced the five-year abstinence period to one year, which I've been told is ridiculous. It's ridiculous to expect men in a monogamous gay relationship to abstain from sex for a year as a condition to giving blood.

I'm wondering how you feel, as gay men, about that issue. Does it bother you that we have official government policy that essentially discriminates against people? We know that there could be a heterosexual man who engages in extremely dangerous practices, and there's no automatic ban on his donating blood. How do you feel about that?

5:05 p.m.

President, Pflag York Region

Tristan Coolman

Myself, I'm thankful to work in a really amazing work environment where we encourage blood donations. We just celebrated the one-year anniversary of our partnership with Canadian Blood Services, but every time an event comes up, I'm left out. I know that I can't donate, and although I'm happy for my colleagues to go out and donate, it's very frustrating for me to not be a part of that and not be a part of the great work that Canadian Blood Services does and the many lives that it saves through that work. I want to contribute, but my government tells me that I can't. It's very disappointing.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

I'm going to leave the last word to you. Each of you, if you were the prime minister, what's the one thing you would do if you could do anything to improve the health of the LGBTQ2S community?

I only have three minutes, so you have to be quick.

Greg, what would be the first thing you would do?

5:05 p.m.

Executive Director, Health Initiative for Men

Greg Oudman

I think a quick win would be to encourage the development of a national strategy, a national LGBTQ2S health strategy that streamlines approaches to LGBTQ2S health. It would look at what the drivers to compromised health are and then develop a streamlined, comprehensive approach rather than piecemeal approach.

I think my colleagues Mr. Salway and Mr. Abramovich have spoken about the need for increased research. I think those are quick, easy wins as well, like adjusting the surveys that Statistics Canada already operates to be more inclusive and to gather more useful information that will help an organization like Health Initiative for Men, as a grassroots community-based organization, use that research to inform its practices.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Prime Minister Abramovich.

5:05 p.m.

Independent Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, As an Individual

Dr. Alex Abramovich

I would like to speak to the work that I do. Something I feel very strongly about is a national strategy on addressing and ending LGBTQ2S youth homelessness across Canada. That would involve working with provinces across the country to develop specific plans for each province that would address this issue and prioritize this population of young people so that we develop inclusive and supportive programs and housing programs, as well as health centres and increased training, working within the school system and working with families so that young people are not kicked out of their homes when they come out.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

I think I'm out of time, so you'll have to wait until the next election.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

Thanks very much.

Mr. Davies asked what you would do to best help your community if you were prime minister. I think the best thing that you could do is send all Canadians on the same trip that we made last week. We learned so much. I was sitting here thinking, “What is the emotion that I feel?” The emotion that I feel is a privilege to see and hear what we heard last week and today. We heard the most intimate, personal issues that we don't usually hear. I came back from that trip—I think we all did—really moved and humbled by it, so if I were prime minister, I would send everybody in Canada to go do what we did, if they can survive it.

Anyway, I want to thank all of you for your participation. It's been very helpful.

I know, Mr. Coolman, from your opening remarks that you're in a hurry, but this place doesn't move fast. However, it's progress. I believe you're making progress, and things like this make a difference. It will help.

Thank you on behalf of the committee.

We're going to break for a few minutes, and then we're going to go in camera.

[Proceedings continue in camera]