The federal government says it will prioritize direct funding to community groups under Canada’s first-ever federal LGBTQ2S+ “action plan,” saying they are the organizations best positioned to identify and provide needed support to address “persistent inequities” and improve the well-being of LGBTQ2S+ people in this country.
Through this plan, the government also commits to addressing emerging criminal justice issues such as HIV non-disclosure; adopt the use of the “more inclusive” acronym 2SLGBTQI+; and launch an awareness campaign aimed at combating discrimination.
According to the government, all of these issues were raised as concerns of members of the LGBTQ2S+ community during the years-long consultation process that informed the plan.
In the 2022 federal budget, the government set aside $100 million to be spent over the next five years to implement this plan. The centerpiece of that plan now is a commitment to allocate 75% of that money to community organizations, with the rest going largely to community-based research and awareness campaigns.
Through pre-arranged funding streams, the government promises to allocate $40 million for “capacity-building grants” for LGBTQ2S+ community organizations that can be used to hire additional staff or improve record collection, for example. example. An additional $35 million will be used to fund a wide range of community-initiated projects, with the goal of providing longer-term sustainable funding for these initiatives.
Minister for Women and Gender Equality Marci Ien unveils the long-awaited plan alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Pride celebrations in Ottawa on Sunday. The slogan of the report is “building our future, with pride”.
“It is well known that 2SLGBTQI+ people continue to face significant challenges, including negative impacts on mental health, underemployment, homelessness, harassment, bullying, and violence. These challenges are still amplified for people with cross-lived experiences,” Ien wrote in the 53-page document. “Although this is a historic first, I can assure you that the work does not stop there.”
The Liberals are touting the plan as a historic investment and among the highest rates of direct federal funding to community groups, allowing for a more sustainable flow of resources to keep their programs and initiatives running.
However, instead of spelling out in the document precisely which groups will receive funding — something advocates have been waiting for more information on since the release of the budget — the government intends to reveal that level of detail through the through a series of announcements in the future. .
Sources told CTVNews.ca the intention is to see this newly announced money start rolling out in early 2023.
The government says it will prioritize allocating this funding to groups that work with LGBTQ2S+ Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) as well as other community demographics who experience additional layers of marginalization such as people with disabilities, the elderly, young people and those who do not live in large urban centres.
FIVE COMPONENTS, INCLUDING JUSTICE POLICY
Overall, the “action plan” has five core elements, each with specific commitments to the LGBTQ2S+ community: Prioritize community action; advancing rights in Canada and abroad; support indigenous “resilience”; fostering an inclusive future; strengthen data and evidence-based policy-making; and seeing the federal government “integrate” LGBTQ2S+ issues into its work.
“I hope that with the measures set out in this whole-of-government approach, we will achieve a future where everyone in Canada is truly free to be who they are and to love who they love,” Trudeau wrote in the opening message. plan. . “There is still a lot of work to do.”
As part of the commitment to strengthen LGBTQ2S+ rights in Canada, the government is committing to launch public consultations beginning this fall on three criminal law reform issues identified as areas requiring particular attention.
Consultations will cover:
- the criminalization of cosmetic surgeries on the genitals of intersex children until they are of age to consent;
- limit prosecutions for HIV non-disclosure before consensual sexual activity, something Justice Minister David Lametti pledged to do ahead of the summer’s International AIDS Conference; and
- update laws on indecent offenses.
Additionally, the Liberals pledge to expand the list of offenses for which they will expunge the criminal records of people who have been convicted of what the government now considers “historically unjust” offenses.
The pledge would build on a law passed in 2018 that expunged the records of Canadians accused of having consensual same-sex relationships. The Liberals advanced this change in justice policy coinciding with the 2017 apology for the federal government’s so-called LGBTQ2S+ purge.
INTERNAL GOVERNMENT CHANGES, AWARENESS
The plan released Sunday also commits $5.6 million to launch an Ien County-led awareness campaign that will seek to eliminate “the underlying and long-standing stigma and discrimination” faced by LGBTQ2S+ communities.
Regarding plans to reform the way the government addresses, considers and responds to LGBTQ2S+ issues, the plan details a series of planned internal changes, presenting it as a whole-of-government effort going forward. Arguably the hallmark feature of this part of the plan is a commitment to start using the acronym 2SLGBTQI+ rather than the currently used acronym LGBTQ2.
“The prominent ‘2S’ acronym recognizes Two-Spirit people as the first 2SLGBTQI+ communities and highlights their experiences as part of the government’s mandate on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” reads the report.
For the most part, the commitments made throughout the “action plan” are without concrete timelines, but the government plans to spend $11.7 million to support the existing government “secretariat” to oversee the implementation of these promises.
The release of this plan comes after the Liberals broke their election promise to complete the plan within the first 100 days of their 2021 post-election term. https://liberal.ca/our-platform/
The government took the first steps towards this plan in 2020, launching public engagement plans just before the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the government hosted virtual roundtables with advocates, community leaders and researchers on a range of topics, received over 100 written submissions and also released a national online survey on the lived realities of gay people. Canadians.
The survey sought feedback from LGBTQ2S+ people in Canada about their experiences with safety, health, housing, employment and discrimination. It generated responses from over 25,000 people.
Among the findings, 39% of respondents said they had experienced violence due to homophobia, transphobia, biphobia or other discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the past five last years. Verbal abuse and online harassment were the most commonly reported forms.
In an effort to continue its evidence-gathering, the plan is also allocating $7.7 million to community groups to continue research projects and to the government to conduct further research through a national survey, in order to inform future initiatives.