Fran Lucas national president-elect of the Catholic Women's League; Cathy Bouchard resolutions chairperson and Anne-Marie Gorman, national president on the Hill Nov. 26-28. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

Catholic Women's League sees hope for change with jobs attestation, palliative care

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  • December 6, 2018

OTTAWA – Changes may be coming to the controversial Canada Summer Jobs attestation requirement, concluded a delegation from the Catholic Women’s League after a series of meetings on Parliament Hill.

“I got the impression it’s going to be different,” said Anne-Marie Gorman, CWL national president, saying she expects the attestation requirement might fall into line with what the CWL and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops have been calling for.

“No one said, ‘Yes, we’re going to change it,’ ” said Cathy Bouchard, the CWL’s chairperson of resolutions. But everyone they spoke to on both sides of the aisle said, “it’s going to be looked at and it’s going to be different next year.”

The three-person delegation, which also included national president-elect Fran Lucas, was in Ottawa Nov. 26-28 to lobby politicians and their staff on resolutions passed at the CWL’s National Convention in August and in previous years. The CWL is Canada’s largest women’s group with more than 80,000 members

Their Canada Summer Jobs resolution calls for the CWL to “urge the federal government to remove the attestation for all future Canada Summer Jobs programs.” 

The attestation, introduced 12 months ago, forces organizations seeking government grants to help fund summer employment to sign a form that affirms abortion and gender theory as Charter values. It is the subject of several legal challenges.

The delegation also came to Ottawa with a palliative care resolution that urges the federal government to pass legislation that will exempt hospice and palliative care facilities from participating in assisted suicide and euthanasia.

“We’re concerned, overall about conscience rights being eroded in different areas, for physicians and health care providers in the provision of medical aid in dying (MAiD) and their requiring the attestation,” said Bouchard.

Bouchard said the CWL is concerned with the language of the attestation because it may not be “clear to the person in the pew what rights might be eroded because of the careful political wording.”

“We’re asking them to completely eliminate the attestation,” said Gorman.

The delegation did not meet with Employment Minister Patti Hadju, who is in charge of the program, or one of her representatives. They did meet, however, with representatives of Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, Crown-Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott and Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor. They also met with Conservative Justice Critic Rob Nicholson and several opposition MPs, including MP Marilyn Gladu.

Gladu is awaiting the federal government’s proposed national framework for palliative care, as required following passage last December of her private member’s Bill C-277. She pointed out that British Columbia is forcing palliative care facilities and hospices to provide euthanasia.

“B.C. is going against the World Health Organization’s definitions and best practices for palliative care,” she said, noting the definition says “palliative care does not hasten death in any way.”

A national framework for palliative care must be presented by Dec. 11. Gladu expressed disappointment that “there was no money announced for it in the (recent) economic update.” 

“When the (health minister) tables the framework, I will be looking for a funding announcement to go along with it,” she said. “A plan without funds won’t happen.”

The CWL delegation met with staff from the two ministers handling Indigenous affairs.

“The big thing we talked about was water and education and children on reserves need so much,” Gorman said.

Gorman said the CWL has a resolution on forming relationships with their  “Indigenous sisters,” to be able to “access entry into their world,” to “educate ourselves” and find out how we can help.

The CWL resolutions not only call for lobbying the government, but for individual members to get involved, said Gorman.  

“We have 80,000 members. There’s a lot of things 80,000 women can accomplish.”

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