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e-4518 (Social affairs and equality)

Initiated by Natasha Totino from Shawinigan, Quebec

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

  • Women's spaces, including changing rooms, shelters & female prisons play a crucial role in ensuring a safe environment for women;
  • Recent legislation and policy changes have jeopardized the security of these areas;
  • It is imperative that we take measures to preserve these spaces;
  • Numerous survivors of sexual assault or harassment rely on shelters and support groups as safe havens;
  • Women's spaces are designated to offer privacy and protection for biological females;
  • Granting access based solely on self-identification will present potential hazards to vulnerable women who depend on these spaces for their welfare;
  • Women's spaces (changing rooms, shelters, prisons) ensure women's safety.
  • Changing rooms provide privacy for personal matters like menstrual product changes; and
  • Upholding these boundaries is vital in maintaining dignity, respect, and bodily autonomy.
We, the undersigned, honest men and women living in Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to 1) Prioritize the safeguarding of women's spaces by instituting guidelines that place security considerations at the forefront;
2) Formulate policies: Create clear and concise laws and policies that acknowledge the significance of sex-segregated spaces, while offering guidance on accommodating transgender individuals in a manner that upholds the rights and safety of everyone involved;
3) Engage with significant stakeholders: Collaborate with women's rights organizations, LGBT advocacy groups, and survivor support networks to ensure that policy modifications are shaped by diverse viewpoints; and
4) By endorsing this petition, we collectively urge lawmakers to defend women's spaces through carefully devised laws and policies that respect privacy. United, we can cultivate a society where everyone feels secure and respected. Let us join forces to maintain the strived for and historically awarded spaces for future generations of women and girls.

Response by the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Lisa Hepfner

Canada is proud of the work we have done to achieve gender equality, on our work to end gender-based violence and our commitment to create an inclusive and prosperous society where women and gender diverse people can thrive. We are a country that is built on the values of diversity, inclusion and respect for human rights. Equality rights are enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and ensure that everyone of every age is treated with the same respect, dignity and consideration, regardless of personal characteristics such as race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, mental or physical disability, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, from coast to coast to coast.  However, as we celebrate the progress we have made when it comes to gender equality, there remains much work ahead of us to truly achieve a society that is equal for all.

Many people in Canada continue to experience violence every day because of their sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or perceived gender. The Government of Canada is committed to applying Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) in decision-making to ensure that policies and programs are responsive to and inclusive of diverse needs and consider impacts on diverse groups of people. The Government of Canada has also developed and published action plans that address gender-based violence (National action plan to end gender-based violence - Women and Gender Equality Canada), and the advancement of rights and equality for 2SLGBTQI+ people (Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan 2022 - Women and Gender Equality Canada) to create a more inclusive and equitable country.

Provinces and territories control the key levers to reach people experiencing gender-based violence and hate, and to promote prevention and awareness of gender-based violence, such as developing their own policy frameworks and funding; and delivering education, health care, and social services, along with the administration of justice.  This includes funding for transitional homes and shelters, and other critical spaces for women and gender diverse people to seek refuge from when they are escaping violence. While there are limits to the jurisdiction the Federal Government has in terms of control over private spaces or spaces that are provincial jurisdiction, the Federal Government has implemented national plans working with the provinces to address the specific challenges vulnerable demographics face. 

In August 2022, the Government of Canada launched the Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan to advance rights and equality for 2SLBTQI+ people in Canada. The Plan seeks to address and prevent discrimination and stigma based on sexual orientation, sex characteristics, gender identity and expression. The Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan was developed based on the experiences, evidence and voices of 2SLGBTQI+ communities and interested parties through an extensive engagement process.

The National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence was launched in November 2022 by Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women. [1] It was informed by over 1,000 recommendations from Indigenous partners, frontline organizations, experts, victims and survivors. The Plan recognizes that all jurisdictions have different roles to play but share responsibility in changing the attitudes and behaviours that sustain gender-based violence. 

The Plan emphasizes primary prevention approaches that address the root causes of gender-based violence to stop violence before it occurs. The Plan recognizes that prevention work must happen in a range of contexts including private, public and community spaces, workplaces, educational settings and online.  Prevention efforts must be gender-informed/sensitive and inclusive, intersectional, trauma and violence-informed, and culturally appropriate to?best meet the needs of diverse populations, including women and gender diverse individuals.  

The National Action Plan to End GBV recognizes that gender-based violence services, including shelters, provide critical, lifesaving supports and safe spaces; and deliver social, health, and community services that protect and empower victims and survivors including, women, girls, and 2SLGBTQI+ people experiencing violence. Organizations and individuals working in communities have in-depth knowledge about the needs of clients, the systemic barriers clients face, and the solutions needed. The safety and well-being of victims and survivors are at the centre of the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence recognizing that they are the experts in their own personal experiences, with diverse backgrounds and needs.

Women and Gender Equality Canada worked with provincial and territorial governments to establish bilateral funding agreements that support each jurisdictions’ work to end gender-based violence. As of December 2023, bilateral funding agreements have been announced with all provinces and territories.  Through investments like the National Action Plan to End Gender Based Violence and the Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan, the Government of Canada has demonstrated our commitment to end violence against these communities, but we know more work is ahead of us. You can follow the implementation and progress of these two action plans on WAGE’s website Bilateral agreements to end gender-based violence - Women and Gender Equality Canada .


[1] Gender-based violence is a priority for the Government of Québec, which has invested significant funds to end violence against women. However, although it supports the overall objectives of the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, the Government of Québec cannot adhere to it because it intends to retain its full responsibility in this area on its territory. Through an agreement that respects its autonomy, the Government of Québec receives federal funding to support the programs, initiatives, and services to end gender-based violence that it puts in place based on the needs of its territory.

Open for signature
August 16, 2023, at 3:20 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
December 14, 2023, at 3:20 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Leslyn Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
February 5, 2024 (Petition No. 441-02074)
Government response tabled
March 20, 2024
Photo - Leslyn Lewis
Conservative Caucus