For immediate release – May 27, 2020
VANCOUVER, UNCEDED COAST SALISH HOMELANDS – Today, West Coast LEAF released a report card assessing the BC government’s recent progress on gender equality and human rights. While recognizing that BC has taken some steps in the right direction between December 2018 and early April 2020, the BC Gender Equality Report Card also finds that many of these steps have left marginalized women and gender-diverse people behind.
The BC Gender Equality Report Card explores six issue areas: access to justice; economic security; freedom from gender-based violence; health; justice for people who are criminalized; and the rights of parents, children, and youth. Insights from community dialogues held in partnership with PACE Society, Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA), and the Coalition Against Trans Antagonism (CATA) ground the Report Card in firsthand community knowledge. The Report Card also highlights principles from international law to hold the BC government accountable to globally recognized human rights standards.
In the area of health, BC earned a C+, the highest grade in this year’s Report Card. The provincial government made significant strides in making gender-affirming surgeries more accessible, yet serious barriers to transition-related health care remain. And while BC’s move to introduce a safe drug supply during the COVID-19 pandemic is critically important, a sustained commitment is needed to ensure access to life-saving harm reduction services. Finally, BC has yet to cover the costs of contraception, despite evidence that this measure would be both cost-effective and socially beneficial.
In the area of justice for people who are criminalized, BC received a D-, the lowest grade in this year’s Report Card. The passage of the Community Safety Amendment Act was a backwards step for BC: this law allows neighbours to police one another and leaves marginalized communities, particularly Indigenous women, at a greater risk of losing their housing. Moreover, longstanding systemic injustices in BC’s prison system remain unchecked, such as grossly disproportionate rates of incarceration of Indigenous women, and violations of the human rights of transgender inmates, especially women.
Alana Prochuk, one of the authors of the BC Gender Equality Report Card, remarked: “While the BC government has introduced some progressive changes, marginalized women and Two-Spirit, trans, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people continue to fall through the cracks. To correct these gaps, BC needs to listen to those communities who currently find it difficult or impossible to access the systems and services that should be supporting them.”
According to Tami Starlight, an organizer with the Coalition Against Trans Antagonism and a participant in the Report Card dialogues, “The Gender Equality Report Card presents the sorely needed analysis of the ways in which people who are marginalized based on their gender (including women, Two-Spirit people, nonbinary people, and gender non-conforming people) continue to face violence and discrimination in our communities. In order to enact solutions that address root issues, the voices, experiences, and leadership of multiply marginalized communities must be centred and prioritized, especially Black and Indigenous trans sex working communities.”
For media inquiries, contact:
Manager of Public Legal Education, West Coast LEAF
604-684-8772, extension 217
Director of Law Reform, West Coast LEAF
604-684-8772, extension 212
Organizer with the Coalition Against Trans Antagonism