Quebec won’t be part of a working group the federal government wants to examine claims that Indigenous women have been sterilized against their will.
A spokesperson for Quebec’s health minister confirmed Thursday the province declined an invitation in January to meet officials from the federal government and other provinces and territories.
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In December, federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor and then Indigenous-services minister Jane Philpott contacted the provinces, territories and members of the medical community to form a group on what they called cultural competency in health care.
Health Canada official Abby Hoffman recently told a parliamentary committee that many provinces have responded to the call and said the first meeting is early next month.
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Alexandre Lahaie, a press attaché to Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann, says the provincial government is very sensitive to the issue of coerced sterilization, there are already discussions underway with a number of First Nations in Quebec — and that health is a provincial jurisdiction.
Petitpas Taylor’s office did not comment directly on Quebec’s decision to opt out but issued a statement saying sterilizing women without their consent is a violation of basic human rights.