What are your pronouns?
Do you support ending the blood ban?
Yes. I have been working to push consecutive governments, including five different Health Ministers, for more than 10 years to end the discriminatory blood ban. We have to move to a scientifically rooted behaviour based screening process to end the discrimination while ensuring the safety of the blood supply. As it stands now the blood donation ban only contributes to homophobia and transphobia by singling out gay men, men who have sex with men, and transwomen as “other” and dangerous to society as a whole and does nothing to make our blood supply safer.
Are you in support of a bill to ban conversion therapy? If so, are you in support of retooling Bill C-6 to make it more comprehensive and allow for it to be a ban on conversion therapy regardless of age?
Yes. In the last parliament the NDP was happy to offer support for Bill C-6 but expressed our disappointment that the legislation did not provide a full out ban on so-called conversion therapy and did not explicitly ban conversion therapy aimed at gender identity and expression. In the Justice Committee our amendments significantly improved the bill by explicitly adding gender identity and expression and by requiring consent for conversion therapy to take place. Adding consent makes the bill an effective ban as criminal law is already clear that no one can consent to being harmed and conversion therapy is not only fraudulent but also always harmful to those subjected to it. In addition to banning conversion therapy we need to ensure that survivor supports are in place for those who have had to endure this traumatic practice. The NDP offered to expedite passage of the bill in the last parliament, but the Liberals never took us up on the offer and so the bill died when the Liberals called this unnecessary election.
Do you agree that gender affirming surgery should become part of standardized care across Canada? What are your views on the Yukon having an effective model to build from?
Yes. Gender affirming care is health care and everyone, regardless of where in Canada you live should have access to these live saving health care treatments. I worked with incredible people from the community to have gender expression and gender identity added to the Human Rights Act and I see ensuring equal access to government services as a necessary part of fulfilling the promise of equal rights made in Bill 16. The federal government needs to provide incentives to the province and territories to ensure that gender affirming health care is available in all parts of Canada and without placing extra cost on those in need of care.
Do you agree that more needs to be done to increase Canada's support of LGBT2Q+ refugees from around the world?
Yes, for more than ten years I have been working to try and get a clear and permanent path to safety in Canada for LGBTQ2+ refugees. While I have been able to work with Ministers to act in specific cases, I have not been able to get the government to understand that we need a better system then the current one-off approach. A path to safety would include a program to raise awareness in high-risk regions that refugee claims based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression are welcomed in Canada. It would include designating safe places to file claims, both in country and places outside refugee camps which are almost always hostile to our community. It would include a separate stream for government sponsored queer refugees rather than just depending on volunteer sponsorships. And it would mean making sure we offer trauma informed settlement services specific to the needs of our community.
What are your views on LGBT2Q+ seniors and their need for dedicated support?
We need to make sure that LGBTQ2+ seniors are receiving the care that they need. We have to look at approaches that we are taking to ensure that all seniors are taken care of and then makes sure that these measures take into consideration the specific needs of LGBTQ2+ seniors. We need to ensure that there is housing for seniors that is inclusive and that there are long term care spaces that are safe and inclusive so that no one has to go back into the closet in their later years. We need programs that ensure that no senior is living in poverty, for LGBTQ2+ seniors this is more common as many from our community were unable to advance in careers because of system discrimination that they faced in the work place.
What are your views on LGBT2Q+ youth and their need for dedicated support?
We need to support LGBTQ2+ youth. We know that rates of suicide and homelessness are far higher amongst LGBTQ2+ youth. We need to ensure that these youth are able to access the services they need safely, this includes gender affirming health care and mental health care. We need investments in housing that include supportive housing for LGBTQ2+ youth.
What are your views on a National LGBT2Q+ Action Plan in Canada to focus strategy with deliverables, accountability, and funding to ensure LGBT2Q+ are supported in all areas of Canadian society?
I support a National LGBTQ2+ Action Plan but plans have to be about more than just consultation, research, and capacity building important as those are. The need for capacity building for queer organisations, especially those representing the most marginalized among us clearly is urgent and New Democrats support doubling funding for the capacity building fund. But an action plan for our community can’t stop there. It needs to include actual actions like ending the blood ban, like banning conversion therapy and providing support to survivors, like eliminating HIV/AIDs by increasing access to testing, medications and education and ending criminalization of HIV, like ensuring gender affirming health care is available across the country, and like providing shelter and support to homeless LGBTQ+ youth.