Evidence of meeting #116 for Status of Women in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was affordable.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Bonnie Brayton  National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network Canada, As an Individual
Arlene Hache  Community Advocate, As an Individual
Sonia Sidhu  Brampton South, Lib.
Martina Jileckova  Chief Executive Officer, Horizon Housing Society
Lisa Litz  Director of Stakeholder Relations, Horizon Housing Society
Jeff Morrison  Executive Director, Canadian Housing and Renewal Association
Dominika Krzeminska  Director, Programs and Strategic Initiatives, Canadian Housing and Renewal Association

4 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Okay. Would there be reason to bring private enterprise into the mix to partner with government in order to provide affordable housing in a co-op model?

4 p.m.

Community Advocate, As an Individual

Arlene Hache

As long as the government doesn't control it. We want women to control their own housing.

Can that happen in the north? I talked to the minister of housing. They said that in the north nobody has the capacity. That really denigrates the skills of women in the north. We have mentors who are willing to do that. As long as the partnership is broader than the government, the sky is the limit.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Hear, hear!

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Thank you very much for adding that.

We're now going to carry on with Brigitte Sansoucy for seven minutes.

You have the floor.

4 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you for your testimony.

Ms. Brayton, this past April, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women came to conduct an investigation in Canada. She said in her report that assistance, home support services and adapted transportation lacked accessibility for women with disabilities.

Do you think the federal government has complied with the UN special rapporteur's recommendation since she completed her mission to Canada? Has any progress been made on implementing international human rights standards here in Canada?

4 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network Canada, As an Individual

Bonnie Brayton

Thank you, Ms. Sansoucy.

We were very pleased to attend a bilateral meeting with the UN special rapporteur while she was in Montreal. We submitted a five-page document to her outlining our concerns and were very pleased to see she had included some of our recommendations in her remarks before she left in June.

As for the progress that has been made since our meeting, I would say that Bill C-81 shows that the federal government intends to make Canada a country that respects everyone's rights. Bill C-81 is a first step in that direction. We've seen the special rapporteur's remarks and those of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which were submitted in the spring of 2016. In them, the committee made 21 special references to the situation of women and girls with disabilities in Canada. In another presentation, CIDA also raised concerns about the situation of those women and girls. The Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC, did so as well. In other words, three UN agencies have raised concerns over the situation of women and girls with disabilities in Canada.

As we now see, some situations have been going on for a long time, and that's important. It's unacceptable for Canada to view women and girls with disabilities as a small cohort. We must address this situation and give serious consideration, in the context of this bill, to the possibility of genuinely becoming a country that stands for all women and girls.

Thank you very much for raising the issue of the UN, where we mainly work for women and girls with disabilities and those who are deaf.

4 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Thank you. I'd like to point out that you are a member of Minister Monsef's advisory council on Canada's strategy to prevent and address gender-based violence. The campaign was more than a footnote during National Accessibility Week.

4 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network Canada, As an Individual

4 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Do you think Canada's strategy to prevent and address gender-based violence or existing federal programs meet the specific needs of women with disabilities, and do they ensure that those women have access to services comparable to those provided to women in general?

4 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network Canada, As an Individual

Bonnie Brayton

We aren't there yet, madam.

I sat on Minister Monsef's committee, and I honestly saw that we had made some progress.

Last spring, we issued a call for tenders for projects involving women and girls with disabilities. We now have recognition at the federal level. A feminist policy must include everyone. Sometimes we've had to remind the various federal departments that this also included women and girls with disabilities.

The big Women Deliver conference will be held in Vancouver next spring, and I'm afraid we can't attend. A great deal of work remains to be done to bring about a policy change.

You said something about a footnote. DAWN Canada examined the statutes and policies of the governments of British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario over three years. Unfortunately, we saw that, at the federal level, women and girls with disabilities often wind up as a footnote or are not gendered.

This shows that, when it comes to disabilities, people are still inclined to lump women and girls in with men rather than design policies specifically for women and girls and include us in them. We understand why there are historic trends in individual rights concerns.

This is why I remind everyone how important it is to look at this act and campaign from an intersectional perspective. By adopting that perspective, we will include all women and girls, whether they have disabilities or are racialized or indigenous.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

In 2011, you prepared a report in which you said that women no longer wanted to be consulted and that they wanted concrete measures.

You talked to us about your upcoming brief. What concrete measures should we take right now?

4:05 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network Canada, As an Individual

Bonnie Brayton

You should start by reviewing the policies of the federal departments. I don't want to hear any more about GBA plus. We're included in the "plus", and that's really insulting for us; we aren't a "plus".

Comparative gender analysis isn't enough. In Canada, that analysis is based on rights holders, but it's time to change this way of doing things by adopting an intersectoral perspective. Compartments have been created to address certain issues, but now that we know who the most marginalized people in Canada are, it's time to exit those compartments and adopt an intersectoral perspective.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Excellent. Thank you very much.

We're now going to move over to Sonia Sidhu for seven minutes.

October 22nd, 2018 / 4:05 p.m.

Sonia Sidhu Brampton South, Lib.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you, both, for being here and for your testimony.

Arlene, you mentioned a gender-specific, housing first model. What would it look like? Do you think staff should be trained in a specific way?

4:05 p.m.

Community Advocate, As an Individual

Arlene Hache

I'm not sure yet because the housing first model is based on principles that work. First of all, it's immediate access to housing, not waiting. It's consumer choice and self-determination. It's recovery-oriented and deals with trauma responses. It's individualized support, and it also supports community integration.

For me, the housing first model has all of the elements it needs. I think it's the application of cultural differences or cultural tools, trauma-informed practice, and it's just to round out the practice better. It's frustrating because the housing model, from an old survivor of the shelter, works. Women's groups are saying it doesn't work and they have their own way of doing things and they have to support all these women. They act like women in shelters have no capacity at all to live on their own or to continue their own lives. A lot of women who face violent situations have lived on their own, can live on their own. Just because they end up in a shelter doesn't mean that they can't be supported in their own home or different homes.

What do I mean by a housing first model? I don't think anyone has answered that question. I think there are polarized views. I think there's a group of people who think housing first and nothing else, and there's a group that says women need to be supported and that's not the housing first model. I think they're biased and not really looking at it in an objective way.

4:10 p.m.

Brampton South, Lib.

Sonia Sidhu

Thank you.

Bonnie, you mentioned a human rights model. Do you think that model can be for both a rural and urban area? Because—

4:10 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network Canada, As an Individual

Bonnie Brayton

I'm from the north—the near north, not the far north. It's different depending on where you are in Canada. It very much depends on what type of community you have and what kinds of resources you have to start with. In so many cases—and you heard what Arlene said, that she started a shelter—an awful lot of what happens in terms of community need is driven by somebody in a community starting something, beginning with something.

I don't think there's a cookie-cutter approach to this. I know we all wish that would be the case. I also think that we have to take a much more horizontal approach. The federal, provincial and municipal governments need to work together on these situations. It's really clear to me that we can't do a top-down model, that the horizontal approach is the only one that's really going to get us at something—transfer payments—because municipalities are dealing with it in the face.

I met Hazel McCallion, from Mississauga, and was involved with her in a project in 2014. Hazel talked about what she was living as the mayor of Mississauga in terms of dealing with this. As I said, it's really important to talk to people who are mayors of cities and small towns and to understand that they're at the front line in terms of where that's happening, along with those shelters and transition houses and the resources. The provincial governments, which are receiving those transfer payments from the government and are making those decisions themselves, are dealing with the same kinds of challenges in terms of the remote and rural communities versus the larger urban centres where again, population bases, voting bases, all of these things are at play. We can't pretend they're not.

It's very important to understand that we have to start trying to put the women first and figure out how we do that from a more horizontal approach. I think some of the discussions that are now happening between federal and provincial governments are exciting, but not bringing the municipal governments in is a mistake. I do think this is the kind of thing that needs to be.... You start with the study, and then you start to pull in people who are actually working on these issues and start to get some of the best practices and look at them, because there are good practices out there in communities big and small. There's lots of innovation going on out there.

4:10 p.m.

Brampton South, Lib.

Sonia Sidhu

Last Friday I visited the Journey Neighbourhood Centre, where they give education. You mentioned the screening of brain injuries. How can we raise awareness for that? Until today, I did not know about that.

4:10 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network Canada, As an Individual

Bonnie Brayton

Dr. Colantonio, in some of the work she's done, has included looking at a model that comes out of the U.S. that was developed a number of years ago. There are three or four screening questions that can be discreetly included in an intake. It's the kind of thing where if you answer “yes” to the first three questions, then there's the drill-down. If you don't, then it gets set aside.

Thinking about how you screen people when they come into a transition house or a shelter is important to our understanding much better over a period of, say, five years, what those needs are. If we started with some of the high-level issues being identified, then started doing some screening and questions and looking at that data to analyze it.... You have to have data and you have to be able to measure it to figure out what the solutions are. I think that's one of the other things we need to do.

You guys are going to hear a lot from different people. You can take note of what those big issues are and then start to work with the networks that are out there and start collecting data so we can get to real responses and some of the good practices out there.

4:10 p.m.

Brampton South, Lib.

Sonia Sidhu

What unique challenges do special needs women face living in the shelters? For example, do they provide sign language for the deaf?

4:10 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network Canada, As an Individual

Bonnie Brayton

I'm so glad you brought that up, because I was going to say deaf women.... Talk about being underserved. Again, it's their right. There's a human right involved that is not being respected, the right to access to sign language, both ASL and LSQ, the two official sign languages of people with disabilities in this country.

I would add that there is also indigenous sign language. I don't think we're going to go anywhere near that today, but it's important to understand that without that, you are literally withholding the most basic right somebody has, which is the ability to communicate.

In terms of that being an issue to identify as a priority area, I thank you for bringing it up, because it certainly will be reflected in our report. We have huge concern for the fact that there's really.... In terms of the provincial level, we've tested some of the provincial hotlines, and if a deaf woman or a woman with a disability calls, often they don't know what to do or where to refer her. Sometimes they refer them to us. DAWN's not a direct service, but we get some of those calls.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Excellent. Thank you so much.

We'll now carry on to our second round of questioning.

Ms. Harder, you have five minutes.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I am sharing my time with my colleague Ms. Block.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I do appreciate the opportunity to be here and to ask one question. I am not a permanent member on this committee, but I did have the opportunity to travel with a status of women committee back in 2008 in order to do a study very similar to this one. We travelled to Nunavut, New Brunswick, Labrador and northern Quebec.

The question I have for you is around this. Perhaps one of the most recent examples I have of organizations coming together to address the needs of their community comes from the homelessness partnering strategy and, more closer to home, the community boards that were established. In Saskatoon it was SHIP, the Saskatoon housing initiatives partnership. All manner of organizations that were looking at addressing the housing needs of the residents in that community got together to identify the priorities and needs within their own community.

It seemed like a pretty good model to have the communities themselves identify, perhaps up to the federal government, where those dollars needed to be spent. They actually chose the organizations that would receive the funding that came from the federal government.

I'm wondering if you think there's any sort of value in a model like that to address the needs we're discussing today.

4:15 p.m.

Community Advocate, As an Individual

Arlene Hache

Could I address that for a sec?