Evidence of meeting #140 for Health in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was queer.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jody Jollimore  Executive Director, Community-Based Research Centre
Joël Xavier  Administrator, Conseil québécois LGBT
Gabriel Girard  Researcher, Sociologist, Centre de recherche de Montréal sur les inégalités sociales et les discriminations
Rachel Loewen Walker  Executive Director, OUTSaskatoon
Martha Smith-Norris  Board Chair, OUTSaskatoon

4:40 p.m.

Executive Director, Community-Based Research Centre

Jody Jollimore

You can't get them here. It's my understanding that there are a couple of obstacles. One is the market. The companies behind it don't necessarily see it as marketable option to go through the regulatory regime in Canada. The federal government could expedite that regulatory regime, and some of these tests are actually being made in Canada. The company is in Richmond, British Columbia. They're making instant tests, and they're not being sold in Canada. They're selling them around the world, so there's also a little bit of an economic issue here where we could be supporting homegrown businesses to do more of that.

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

We hear of stigma, stigma, stigma all the time, and it's obviously a huge issue. You went through some of the federal government's—maybe I can put it this way—“contributions to stigma”. We know about the Criminal Code, the criminalization of HIV disclosure and other things, but one thing that was not mentioned is the continued ban on men who have sex with men from contributing blood. I've heard enough evidence at this point to come to my opinion that there is no scientific basis for that. In fact, to make a discriminatory assumption that a gay man is engaging in high-risk sex activities when, with a heterosexual man, that assumption is not made shows the absurdity of that, yet this government still has a one-year ban precluding men who have sex with men from donating blood.

Is that not a form of federal stigma that we could easily remove, particularly if it has no scientific basis? How does it impact gay men? Does that affect them? How do they feel about that ban?

4:45 p.m.

Executive Director, Community-Based Research Centre

Jody Jollimore

The data has not yet been made available, but it should be within a couple of weeks. It was a major part of our last Sex Now survey, which was actually funded by Canadian Blood Services to study just this question. I can tell you, without giving away anything, that overwhelmingly gay men are against this policy and feel that they should be able to donate blood as others do, and that will be witnessed in the data.

To say that there's no evidence for this is not accurate. There's certainly prevalence. I mentioned that they are 131 times more likely to have HIV, so there was a reason, particularly with the blood scare and whatnot. Is there evidence today? Probably not, but we need a better solution. My issue with this—and I probably would be going against some of my colleagues on this—is that I don't think it's a political issue. I actually don't want you all deciding who gets to donate blood and who doesn't. I'd rather the professionals at Canadian Blood Services make those decisions. While I think it's important that we move towards a non-discriminatory policy—and certainly I think that looks like a gender-blind, behaviour-based screening model—I wouldn't want to see that imposed as a political decision. I think that needs to remain a public health decision.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

The time's up.

I've been giving blood all my life. I went to give blood a little while ago and they said “You can't give blood. You're too old”, so there you go. I don't know if they've changed that or not, but they said they wouldn't take my blood, and my blood's good.

Mr. Ouellette.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

I want to thank everyone for joining us today.

I have a few specific questions that may help to enlighten our analysts.

What's online mapping? Can you explain how this educational tool would work?

4:45 p.m.

Researcher, Sociologist, Centre de recherche de Montréal sur les inégalités sociales et les discriminations

Gabriel Girard

We want to develop this tool for LGBT people, and MSM in particular, since we mainly work with that community. The tool would give them access, through a website, to a map of the points of service for LGBT people. This would provide a list of services for members of the LGBT community.

April 30th, 2019 / 4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Does this tool exist?

4:45 p.m.

Researcher, Sociologist, Centre de recherche de Montréal sur les inégalités sociales et les discriminations

Gabriel Girard

It doesn't exist. We currently have directories. Several community organizations have resources, but the resources are often made up of various pieces of information in our possession. We want to systematize the information and make it available to a broader public so that people can access the information more easily.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Should this tool also be available in English?

4:45 p.m.

Researcher, Sociologist, Centre de recherche de Montréal sur les inégalités sociales et les discriminations

Gabriel Girard

Absolutely, yes.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

The tool should be available across Canada.

Mr. Jollimore, you've conducted a great deal of research and collected many statistics.

Are drugs easily accessible to people who are, for example, unemployed or who don't have a drug plan at work?

4:45 p.m.

Executive Director, Community-Based Research Centre

Jody Jollimore

When you say drugs, I'm assuming you mean prevention drugs or treatment for HIV?

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Yes, that's what I mean.

4:45 p.m.

Executive Director, Community-Based Research Centre

Jody Jollimore

It depends on the province. Some provinces have co-pays. Others have completely free access to medications. For instance, in British Columbia we have a very robust, well-funded program that allows anyone with HIV to access medications free of charge. There are actually some other anomalies about B.C. that allow you to access those through the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, so that increases confidentiality and things like that.

Outside of B.C., it depends on the province. If there's a co-pay, yes, we know that this can be prohibitive for folks who are looking to treat their HIV or prevent their HIV with PrEP. We're seeing that even a few hundred dollars a month is unaffordable for some people.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

This can have a major impact on the health of Canadians.

4:45 p.m.

Executive Director, Community-Based Research Centre

Jody Jollimore

Absolutely, yes.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

I have a question for Joël Xavier concerning education. Mr. Jollimore spoke about it.

I want to talk to you about the specific nature of educational needs. We've already heard testimony about the Centre of Excellence for Women's Health in Vancouver and the importance of the centre.

Obviously, the needs are different in terms of sex education, for example, for cisgender people, and in terms of the levels of education and needs of people who are not only gay and lesbian, but also minorities within those groups.

4:50 p.m.

Administrator, Conseil québécois LGBT

Joël Xavier

Yes.

The sexual health needs of many people aren't being recognized, including the needs of trans people, non-binary people, bisexual people and two-spirit people. There are very few resources for prevention, sexual health and education. Very little research is being conducted with trans people. It's often forgotten that we have a sexuality. At the Conseil, we provide some training. However, there are significant needs and very few resources to meet those needs across the country at this point.

I know that CATIE, Canada's source for HIV and hepatitis C information, provides two guides. The guide entitled PRIMED is for trans men, and the guide entitled Brazen is for trans women. These guides talk about our sexual health realities. The guides are available, but not everyone will pick one up.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Also, not everyone will read the guide.

4:50 p.m.

Administrator, Conseil québécois LGBT

Joël Xavier

That's right. It's not sufficient as a resource.

Right now, as you said, we really need funding for sexual health education and community-based participatory research with trans people to develop suitable tools that reflect our realities. One interesting thing about trans people is that, like non-trans people, we really do have a variety of sexual practices and genital organs. This must be taken into account.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

My question may be a bit different.

4:50 p.m.

Administrator, Conseil québécois LGBT

Joël Xavier

This is the right place.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

You're from the Conseil québécois LGBT.

4:50 p.m.

Administrator, Conseil québécois LGBT

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

In Nunavik, in the far north of Quebec, do these same issues arise in the Inuit community?