When the Government of Ontario announced its plan to cancel the 2015 health curriculum and revert back to the outdated 1998 curriculum, Action Canada, in collaboration with The 519 and SHORE Centre, submitted an urgent appeal to the UN’s Special Procedures to draw attention to the human rights violations occurring as a result. On 19 December 2018, Canada received an official communication endorsed by UN human rights experts demanding Canada take immediate steps to ensure compliance with human rights obligations.
The message to Canada from the UN was clear: federal and provincial governments have an obligation to ensure all young people are provided with sexuality education, and failure to ensure access to sexuality education is a violation of human rights.
In response to the Communication, the Government of Canada, in collaboration with the Government of Ontario, submitted a response which: fails to take adequate responsibility for human rights obligations (particularly regarding non-retrogression), puts forward inaccurate information regarding the curriculum in question, falsely claims there is no definition of “age appropriate,” refutes any violation of the freedom of expression of teachers by denying the creation of the “snitch” line, presents misleading information regarding the curriculum consultations, and incorrectly attributes rights entitlements to parents.
Immediate action from Canada is required to even the playing field on sex-ed. The federal government has an obligation to ensure young peoples’ right to comprehensive sexuality education is upheld. In order to do so, we urge the federal government to:
- Engage the Government of Ontario in order to re-submit information to UN Special Procedures and address inaccuracies contained in the initial response (see information presented below);
- Engage all Provinces and Territories towards the creation of robust accountability mechanisms to implement, monitor, and evaluate comprehensive sexuality education in line with the soon to be re-released Canadian Guidelines on sexuality education, the UNESCO technical guidelines on comprehensive sexuality education, and international human rights law;
- Allocate resources for the training of professional sexual health educators;
- Publish and disseminate information regarding the rights of young people to receive accurate, evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education in order to drive demand for high-quality sexuality education and empower young people with information regarding their rights;
- Engage in national data collection on a full range of sexual health indicators.