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Unpaid Home Caregiving a Violation of Human Rights?

A single mother in Saskatchewan, who is caring for her chronically ill child at home, has launched a claim to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, stating that the demands on her as an unpaid caregiver are well beyond those of motherhood, and are a violation of her human rights. The mother was providing highly specialized 24-hour-a-day care to her child, at least 387 hours a month, which she has calculated would cost the health care system over $9000 a month if performed by paid caregivers. Advocates at the Universities of Saskatchewan and Regina are supporting this mother in advancing her claim. At first, the Human Rights Commission rejected the claim, determining there was “no probable cause”. However, recently the Commission has withdrawn that determination and states it will continue to investigate the claim. The outcome of this case could have widespread implications for unpaid caregivers and the home health care system.

At Long Last…Federal Laws on Reproductive Technologies?

After a decade of reports, discussions and draft legislation, Canada is again in the midst of creating legislation to regulate assisted reproductive technologies and related research. The new Bill has been introduced in the House of Commons – http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/english/protection/reproduction/index.htm.

It has been a long time coming- the original Royal Commission on Reproductive Technology was constituted in 1993; this is the third attempt at national legislation to regulate this medically, socially and morally critical field of health care.

In 2001, the draft of the new legislation was reviewed by the Standing Committee on Health, who heard dozens of briefs from range of groups. The proposed legislation addresses assisted human reproduction activities that might help some Canadians have children and the use of human embryos in research that might advance knowledge in various fields. The draft legislation covers activities that are prohibited in all circumstances, such as cloning of humans, and those that can only be carried out under controlled conditions, such as contract (‘surrogate’) pregnancies. The Health Committee released its own comments on this draft legislation. These can be found at http://www.parl.gc.ca/InfoComDoc/37/1/HEAL/Studies/Reports/healrp01-e.htm.

CWHN presented to the House Standing Committee on Health, outlining areas of the proposed legislation of particular concern to women. For a summary of CWHN recommendations see www.cwhn.ca/hot/policy/reproduction.html. Keep an eye on our website for commentary and updates on the legislation.

Update from the Working Group on Women and Health Protection (WHP)

By Anne Rochon Ford

The Working Group on Women and Health Protection was the brainchild of DES Action Canada and grew out of the National Network on Environments and Women’s Health. It is now funded through the Centres of Excellence for Women’s Health program of the Women’s Health Bureau. One of the Working Group’s main areas of concentration has been on fighting the move to direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs, which has particular implications for women’s health. With the recent release of a study by Barbara Mintzes and colleagues at UBC, (Influence of direct to consumer pharmaceutical advertising and patient’ requests on prescribing decisions: two site cross-sectional survey. B Mintzes, ML Barer, RL Kravitz, A Kazanjian, K Bassett, J Lexchin, RG Evans, R Pan, SA Marion. British Medical Journal 2 February 2002, Vol. 324: 278 Available at: http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/324/7332/278). The Group has continued to keep the issue alive in the media and will be submitting a brief to the Romanow Commission on the subject.

Watch for a booklet on the disturbing trend towards “chemoprevention” at the expense of better public health measures written by Sharon Batt for the WHP. (Chemoprevention in breast cancer management is the use of drugs to block the action of estrogen in the development of the disease.) This will be out in the summer along with a booklet on International Harmonization of pharmaceuticals and what this means for women’s health, based on a discussion paper written by John Abraham.

Women and Health Protection has two other research projects on the go: one on where women go for drug information and what they find out there, written by Linda Levesque, and a second on Canada’s Adverse Drug Reactions Reporting Program and how this can be harmful to women’s health, written by Colleen Fuller. Both projects will yield discussion papers in late Spring. Also look for updates on our website, a hotlink from either the CWHN site or the DES Action site (www.whpapsf. ca ). For inquiries about Women and Health Protection activities or for copies of our existing publications, contact Anne Rochon Ford in Toronto at annerf@web.ca or Carla Marcelis in Montreal at carla@web.ca. Mailing address: Women and Health Protection, c/o DES Action Canada, 5890 Monkland Ave, Suite 203, Montreal, Quebec, H4A 1G2.

Publications (in English and French) of WHP that can be ordered from the DES Action office or by e-mail from the staff:

  1. How Safe Are Our Medicines: Monitoring the Risks of Drugs After They Are Approved for Marketing
  2. Direct to Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs: When Public Health Is No Longer a Priority
  3. Illegal Direct-To-Consumer Prescription Drug Advertising in Canada, 1999 To 2001: When Drug Companies Skirt the Law and the Government Refuses to Enforce, Who Pays?
  4. Working Group on Women and Health Protection, general information brochure.

Filipino Nurses Win Victory

Registered Nurses trapped under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) can now apply to the BC Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) without jeopardizing their immigration status thanks to the work of the Filipino Nurses Support Group (FNSG).

Lobbying FNSG members were originally told by provincial government officials that Registered Nurses doing 24-hour domestic and home support work under the LCP were not allowed to apply to the PNP. "I was told that the government did not want to put one employer before another," explained RN Cielo Ebio. "But who do they need most after all, nannies or nurses?"

Nurses have also been told by Citizenship and Immigration Canada that if they leave the LCP to enter the PNP, they would imperil their chances of being granted landed immigrant status. But after further lobbying efforts, FSNG received word from CIC in January 2002 that Filipino and other foreign-trained nurses’ right to apply to the PNP without jeopardizing their application for permanent residency was upheld.

For more information see FSNG at http://www.kalayaancentre.org and "Filipino Nurses in Canada," CWHN Network(Summer 2001) available from CWHN or at www.cwhn.ca/network-reseau/4-3/4-3pg7.html. See also Louise Langevin and Marie-Claire Belleau, Trafficking in Women in Canada: A Critical Analysis of the Legal Framework Governing Immigrant Live-in Caregivers and Mail-Order Brides (Status of Women Canada, October 2000) available at http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/publish/research/020215-066231252X-e.html.