For Immediate Release
OTTAWA, March 20, 2023 – Data from a poll commissioned by Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights reveals that the vast majority of Canadians believe Canada has a diplomatic role to play in advancing global sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
Based on the polling results, just over three-quarters of Canadians (77%) agree that Canada should play an influential and diplomatic role in the promotion of SRHR around the world, and that Canada should be bold and outspoken in supporting SRHR in the face of global backlash. Seven in ten Canadians (69%) agree that Canada should provide financial and diplomatic support to grassroots organizations globally in advocating for the advancement of SRHR.
Notably, the data shows that Canadians believe supporting SRHR is just as important around the world as it is at home.
“This polling data comes at a time when sexual and reproductive rights are facing increased attacks in the U.S. and globally,” says Kelly Bowden, Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Government Relations at Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights. “Understanding how Canadians perceive SRHR and Canada’s role in advancing and protecting global SRHR is more critical than ever.”
In 2019, Canada made a ten-year commitment to provide $700 million per year towards the advancement of global SRHR, including the neglected areas of safe abortion, contraception, comprehensive sexuality education, and SRHR advocacy. Action Canada and other civil society advocates have called for spending on the neglected areas to reach $500 million per year by the end of 2023—as of the 2021 spending year, Canada has invested $104 million.
When asked what Canadians understood to be the most neglected or underfunded areas of SRHR globally, access to safe abortion came out top of the list. Currently, Canada has invested only 1.9 million dollars, or 0.27% of its annual international SRHR commitment, to ensure access to safe abortion services.
Globally, more than 60% of all unintended pregnancies end in abortion. Just over half of these are estimated to be unsafe – meaning a serious risk of death or disability to millions of women every year. “Investing in safe access to abortion saves lives and affirms the right for everyone to control their bodies. It is also clearly a priority for Canadians,” says Bowden. "Canada has taken significant leadership by making this global commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Now they need to scale up spending in the areas that need it most—safe abortion access, contraception access, comprehensive sexuality education, and SRHR advocacy.”
While the polling data shows that Canadians care about global sexual and reproductive health and rights, it also reveals that nearly half of Canadians (47%) don’t know about Canada’s role in achieving those rights.
The polling results found that young people aged 18-35 are more likely to disagree that Canada is taking an active role in advancing SRHR globally. Bowden says that “This is particularly interesting considering that comprehensive sexuality education, which particularly affects young people, is one of the most neglected areas of SRHR.”
Amid attacks on sexual and reproductive rights in the U.S., at home, and worldwide, this new data makes clear that Canadians support the advancing of a comprehensive sexual health and rights agenda around the world and underscores the need for Canada’s increased leadership to advance global SRHR through diplomacy, financial commitments, and multilateral relationships.
613-241-4474 x 13200
Notes to Editors:
- ACTION CANADA FOR SEXUAL HEALTH & RIGHTS is a progressive, pro-choice charitable organization committed to advancing and upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally. For more information about Action Canada, please visit www.actioncanadashr.org
- The poll, which surveyed 1,001 Canadians weighted across age, gender, and region to reflect the overall Canadian population, was commissioned to capture how Canadians perceive Canada’s involvement in global SRHR. The full polling factum can be found here: https://www.ipsos.com/en-ca/strong-majority-canadians-feel-canada-shoul…
- Earlier this year, Global Affairs Canada released their inaugural annual report on the spending undertaken within Canada's 10-year commitment to women and children's health. Numbers on Canadian investment in SRHR are taken from this report: https://www.international.gc.ca/transparency-transparence/global-health-sante-mondiale/global-health-rights-report-rapport-sante-droits.aspx?lang=eng