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CWL delegation brings resolutions to Parliament Hill

By Deborah Gyapong

Canadian Catholic News


OTTAWA (CCN) — A four-woman delegation from the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) visited Parliament Hill Nov. 27 - 30, meeting with public officials on issues ranging from immigration to palliative care.

The CWL is promoting a resolution to urge the government to amend the Canada Health Act to “identify palliative care as an insured health service.”

Though the CWL is monitoring Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu’s private member’s Bill C-277 that asks for a national framework for palliative care, CWL legislation chair Nancy Simms says the Catholic women’s organization wants to see the Canada Health Act amended to include it.

“It’s great to have a framework, but if you don’t have finances it doesn’t go so well,” she said.

“Only 16 to 30 per cent of Canadians have access to quality palliative care,” said resolutions chair Joan Bona. “It’s quite alarming.”<

CWL president Margaret Ann Jacobs, president-elect Anne-Marie Gorman, Simms and Bona met with Senator Betty Unger, a Catholic, who had planted the seed for the CWL resolution back in 2004, who told them, “If you want quality palliative care, you have to change the Canada Health Act,” said Jacobs. They also met with Senator Jane Cordy, who mentioned the CWL in an October speech before the Senate, and called their resolution “a reasonable request by the CWL that would benefit all Canadians.”

The delegation met with Immigration Canada officials about 2016 Resolution #1 to urge the government to “amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act so that foreign workers may apply for permanent resident status regardless of occupational classification.”

They were told a report is coming in January from the House of Commons HUMA Committee (Human Resources, Skills, and Social Development) on the Temporary Foreign Workers program, said Bona.

The delegation met with officials from Health Canada concerning Resolution #2 regarding the updating of Canada’s Food Guide. “We’re asking for evidence-based research,” Bona said.

They were pleased to discover a new food guide is in the works that is “looking at the global aspect,” and addressing everything from nursing homes to restaurants, said Simms.

“The new guide is going to meet the needs of all sectors,” Gorman said. “We learned things that will be very informative for our members.”

Gorman said they are pleased with the response to the resolutions they brought forward. “We’ve had our finger on the pulse of what’s important to the culture,” she said.

The women met with other Health Canada officials concerning their Resolution #3 on “warning labels on food and drug products for all inactive substances and additives.”

For drugs they discovered many of these warnings are already in place, “but people are choosing not to access the information,” said Gorman. It can be found in the drug monographs that come with the packaging. “We need to be better educated ourselves,” Gorman said.

They also brought up their 2015 Resolution #1 with Public Health Canada on increasing early intervention and access for children and youth to mental health services.

Because the resolution deals with early intervention and access, and access is more of a provincial issue, they are going to discussing this in federal/provincial meetings next year, Simms said.

The officials told them they have a mental health kit coming that will be announced soon and that they have a good rapport with the provinces and territories in finding ways to address this matter, said Jacobs. The federal government is also coming out with a federal framework on suicide prevention.

The delegation also met with the Opposition Indigenous Affairs critic Conservative MP Cathy McLeod, who set up an e-petition at Simms’ request to have home care recognized as an insured health care service.

This was Jacobs third time making a trip to Ottawa as part of a delegation, her second time meeting with representatives of the Liberal government, and her first as CWL president. The twice-a-year visits give the women a chance to explain to government officials what the CWL is and how, as Canada’s largest women’s organization, it is possible to disseminate messages to members.

“I think we were favourably received,” Jacobs said.

The CWL delegation also met with the incoming director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) Michel MacDonald and assistant director Peter Murphy; with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops general secretary Msgr. Frank Leo; and with the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi while in Ottawa.

“I was very impressed with how much trust the CCCB puts in COLF,” said Gorman.

“COLF is what we rely on for correct information with regard to Catholic teaching if we need to look,” said Jacobs.

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