Ottawa’s delayed LGBTQ action plan comes ‘later in the year’, the minister said

The federal government has blown past its own promised deadline to complete the country’s first LGBTQ2S + action plan, but the minister overseeing it says it will be delivered “later this year.”

During last summer’s election campaign, the Liberal Party promised to implement the plan within the first 100 days after the formation of a new government. Last week’s budget committed $ 100 million over five years to the implementation, but community organizations are wondering how the money will be spent.

Minister for Women and Gender Equality Marci Ien said she was continuing the consultations, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for the delay.

“I want to be slow – of course not too slow – but stable, and listen to everyone I can, because I want this to work. I want it to work well, because honestly life is at stake,” said Ien to Star.

“I do not want to sit there and speak for society when I am not living and experiencing what they are.”

Ien said she could not go into detail on what the $ 100 million will be spent on as the budget still needs to pass the House of Commons. She described her service as the “glue” that touches any other department. For example, she said the plan could include LGBTQ2S + -specific housing initiatives or community-based health care funding.

“It’s up to us to come together as cabinet colleagues and work on plans that will work for society,” she said.

The government already conducted consultations on the plan last year, including an online survey that drew responses from more than 25,000 LGBTQ2S + people, as well as roundtable discussions.

Nearly 40 percent of the people who participated in the online survey reported having been exposed to violence due to homophobia, biphobia or transphobia in the last five years, most of it verbally or online.

Transgender respondents were most likely to report that they were denied employment because of their gender identity and that they had difficulty accessing housing due to discrimination.

Not only is the plan “very late,” but its scope remains vague, said new Democratic MP Randall Garrison, his party’s critic of LGBTQ2S + issues.

“So there is no clarity about the scope of the plan, no clarity about what is in the plan, and very late in actually producing the plan with real action in it, which is what people are worried will not happen,” Garrison said .

The NDP would like the plan to include the creation of a special envoy who will defend LGBTQ2S + rights internationally, Garrison said.

Ien said she is open to all ideas, including exploring the possibility of a gift fund that would ensure permanent and stable funding for organizations that serve the community. This is a key requirement of the Enchanté Network, which is made up of almost 200 LGBTQ2S + organizations across the country.

“It would require significant initial investment, but it would also allow the ethical income generated from this investment to forever provide some form of core funding to queer and trans organizations,” said Tyler Boyce, the network’s CEO.

The executive director of the Canadian Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity described the $ 100 million commitment as the “just minimum” achieved through community advocacy, but said it is difficult to celebrate as it is unclear how the funds will being used.

Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah said she hopes to see support for LGBTQ2S + seniors included in the action plan, and said she also wants to know more about the consultations themselves and how reflective they were of the LGBTQ2S + community.

“Yes, it feels nice to be recognized in the budget, but it also feels like, ‘Here’s a little thing, are you not that happy about it?’ I do not think we should celebrate crumbs as a sector, ”she said.

“The message is that we need more structured funding for this sector because the work we are doing is absolutely life-saving.”

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