PANSOW calls for changes to justice system following the death of two women at the NL Correctional Centre for Women

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) stands in solidarity with families of incarcerated women. We join them in calling on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to initiate long overdue changes within our provincial justice system.

The 2008 report, Decades of Darkness: Moving Towards the Light – A review of the prison systems in Newfoundland and Labrador noted that many of those who are housed in our provincial prisons are there for crimes stemming from poverty, addictions, and mental health issues. Yet adequate and appropriate programming and services, especially gender-specific programming, to address these needs are not present within our correctional institutions. Prisons are not equipped to deal with these issues and the living conditions in these institutions often lead to deterioration of mental health. We are at a critical moment following the deaths of two women at the NL Correctional Centre for Women, change through community collaboration is paramount.

Samantha Piercey, who died in prison last month, died on remand. Charged, but not convicted of a crime. Unfortunately, our province has some of the highest rates of remand in the country. Whenever possible, individuals on remand should remain in the community with supports.

There is an immediate and critical need for supports, staffing and resources, gender-specific health care, an alleviation of overcrowding, and incidents of lock down. We are supportive of the independent review initiated by Minister Parsons however we ask for civilian oversight of this process and the involvement of incarcerated women and their families.

Media Contacts
Paula Sheppard Thibeau
Executive Director
Corner Brook Status of Women Council
Tel. 709.639.8522
cbwomenscentre@gmail.com

Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
PANSOW, Co-Chair
Tel: 709.753.0220
jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

About PANSOW
The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consists of all eight Status of Women Councils in Newfoundland and Labrador.

PANSOW seeks clarification regarding mandatory counselling for Mifegymiso

The following letter was sent to the Hon. Dr. John Haggie, Minister of Health and Community Services via email at the end of May 2018. PANSOW requested clarification on his comments regarding the need for women to receive counselling before being prescribed the abortion pill, Mifegymiso. To date, no response has been received from his office. We urge you to join us in contacting the Minister of Health and Community Services to ensure that Mifegymiso is readily available to all women throughout the province through clinics and their family doctor without the need for mandatory counselling. 

Dear Minister John Haggie,

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is seeking clarification on your statement in regards to counselling for the abortion pill, Mifegymiso. Are you suggesting that women receive mental health counselling before being prescribed the medication or just a discussion with their doctor about potential side-effects of the medication?

PANSOW represents the eight Status of Women Councils of this province and we are pro-choice organizations that support people’s right to choose. We want to see Mifegymiso covered by MCP and that every family doctor or nurse practitioner can prescribe it to their patients.

It is important that women from any area of the province, particularly rural and remote areas, have access to this much needed and time sensitive service. Requiring women to access counselling before they can be prescribed the medication is a barrier with already lengthy wait times for counselling throughout the province or simply unavailable in some parts of the province.

We look forward to your response.

Thank you,

Janice Kennedy, Co-Chair of PANSOW

Media Contact
Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
PANSOW, Co-Chair
Tel: 709.753.0220
jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

About PANSOW
The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consists of all eight Status of Women Councils in Newfoundland and Labrador.

For Immediate Release: PANSOW statement on MHA attendance at celebration of Eddie Joyce

Everyone loves a celebration. However, the Provincial Action Network of the Status of Women (PANSOW) must question the timing of the recent celebration of MHA Eddie Joyce’s 25 years of public service in politics. Mr. Joyce is currently under investigation by the Commissioner for Legislative Standards amid allegations of harassment and bullying. Mr. Joyce, while still the MHA for Humber-Bay of Islands, has been placed on an indefinite leave of absence from the House of Assembly as the investigation continues.

We are concerned for the message that this sends to the public, especially considering the anti-harassment training all MHAs recently completed. Harassment is a form of violence which violates respectful workplace policies. It is imperative that leaders recognize the damaging effects that workplace violence can have on their employees. This celebration and the attendance by four Liberal MHAs sends the message to the women who came forward that they do not matter. It does not present an image of respect for the process currently taking place within the House regarding this issue.

We call on the MHAs, Gerry Byrne, John Finn, Scott Reid, and Jerry Dean to acknowledge this and to undertake further training to better understand the impacts of violence in the workplace.

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Media Contacts

Janice Kennedy
Executive Director
Bay St. George Status of Women Council
PANSOW, Co-Chair
Tel: 709.643.4444
executivedirector.bsgswc@gmail.com

Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
PANSOW, Co-Chair
Tel: 709.753.0220
jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

About PANSOW
The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consists of all eight Status of Women Councils in Newfoundland and Labrador.

For Immediate Release: PANSOW expresses disappointment at lack of government consultation

For Immediate Release

October 19, 2017

PANSOW expresses disappointment at lack of government consultation

Following the In Her Name Vigil for missing and murdered women and girls of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) and a coalition of anti-violence groups called for the establishment of a Provincial Task Force on Gender-Based Violence. This week the Provincial Government announced the formation of a Minister’s Committee on Violence Against Women and Girls. PANSOW is expressing disappointment in this approach.

PANSOW and its community partners called for the establishment of a task force to oversee the implementation of a comprehensive, provincial plan to end domestic violence, and all violence, against women and girls. The Minister’s Committee on Violence Against Women and girls will be comprised of government and community representatives; membership is by invitation only.

Jenny Wright, PANSOW Co-Chair and Executive Director of the St. John’s Status of Women Council:

The way in which the government has established this committee circumvents the work of a coalition of anti-violence and domestic violence experts. The government did not acknowledge PANSOW’s request or engage in any consultation on the matter. Telling organizations to wait for an invitation is not a consultation.

PANSOW had asked women-serving anti-violence organizations to join the call for a provincial task force and had responses from organizations across the province.

Janice Kennedy, PANSOW Co-Chair and Executive Director, Bay St. George Status of Women Council:

The shift from a task force informed and led by anti-violence experts to an invitation-only committee is disappointing. Consulting with those who issued the call for a task force on gender-based violence should be an imperative for this government.”

PANSOW is calling on Minister Parsons to halt the further development of this committee until his department has met with the organization and its partners.

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 Media Contact

Janice Kennedy

PANSOW, Co-Chair

Executive Director, Bay St. George Status of Women

Tel: 709.643.4444

Email: executivedirector.bsgswc@gmail.com

About PANSOW 

The Provincial Action Network of the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consists of all eight Status of Women Councils in Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

For Immediate Release: PANSOW Issues Call for a Provincial Task Force on Gender Based Violence

For Immediate Release

October 6, 2017

PANSOW Issues Call for a Provincial Task Force on Gender Based Violence

Following the In Her Name Vigil for missing and murdered women and girls of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) and a coalition of anti-violence groups are calling for the establishment of a Provincial Task Force on Gender-Based Violence. The goal of this task force would be to oversee the implementation of a comprehensive, provincial plan to end domestic violence, and all violence, against women and girls.

The organizations joining PANSOW in calling for this task force include: Transition House Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s Native Friendship Centre, Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre, Violence Prevention – Avalon East, and Violence Prevention – West.

This task force must contain representation from the provincial Departments of Justice and Public Safety, Education and Early Childhood Development, Health and Community Services, Children, Seniors and Social Development, and the Status of Women, survivors of domestic violence, and women-serving anti-violence organizations.

Jenny Wright, PANSOW Co-Chair and Executive Director of the St. John’s Status of Women Council:

This needs to be the moment in our history, where we agree as a people that the levels of violence experienced by women and girls is simply no longer acceptable to us, that what we have been doing is failing women, and that, we choose another path. That path is a task force on gender violence.

Newfoundland and Labrador has among the highest rates of domestic violence in the country. It is one of the few provinces where domestic violence is on the rise. Sadly, the rate of domestic violence is likely much higher than we know; 70 per cent of spousal violence is not reported to the police. Of the 217,900 women over the age of 15 residing in Newfoundland and Labrador, approximately 108,950 (one in two) will experience at least one incident of sexual or physical violence throughout their lifetime. Approximately 10 per cent (10,895) of these women will actually report this victimization to police. ​

Janice Kennedy, PANSOW Co-Chair and Executive Director, Bay St. George Status of Women Council:

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador must form an immediate task force to address the high and unacceptable rates of gender-based violence in this province. Too many women are missing or have already died and many more are at risk. We demand the task force bring together government and community stakeholders to implement systemic and legislative changes that improve the safety and lives of women and children throughout the province. Every citizen of this province deserves the right to live in peace and safety in their homes, and their communities.”

PANSOW is asking other women-serving anti-violence organizations to join this call for a provincial task force. If your organization would like to sign on, please contact Jenny Wright, Executive Director of the St. John’s Status of Women Council and Co-Chair, PANSOW.

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 Media Contact

Jenny Wright

Executive Director

St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre

Tel. 709.753.0220

jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

 

 

Janice Kennedy

Executive Director BSG Status of Women

PANSOW, Co-Chair

Tel: 709.643.4444

executivedirector.bsgswc@gmail.com

 

About PANSOW 

The Provincial Action Network of the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consist of all eight Status of Women Council in Newfoundland and Labrador

 

 

Media Release: PANSOW concerned the Premiers taskforce on education does not address high levels of domestic violence in NL

August 9th, 2017

Media Release

Newfoundland and Labrador

PANSOW concerned the Premiers taskforce does not address high levels of domestic Violence in NL

The Premiers task force on education was a welcome and long overdue report on the current state of our education system, that contained 82 key recommendations for change; (http://www.ed.gov.nl.ca/edu/task_force/report.pdf) many of which we support. However, the Provincial Action Network of the Status of Women (PANSOW) is alarmed that the opportunity may have been missed to address the high levels of violence women experience in our province.

Domestic violence rates in Newfoundland and Labrador are the highest per capita in the country. In other provinces where domestic violence is showing a minor decline, NL is in fact seeing a rise in domestic violence. We have experienced several domestic violence homicides over the last decade, and quite frankly, the levels of violence can no longer be tolerated. https://www.gov.nl.ca/VPI/facts/violence_against_women_fact_sheet.pdf

To end this cycle of violence, comprehensive changes to our education curriculum must be included. We can begin to have a substantial impact on violence in the province through teaching our children how to stop the cycle of violence for good. Violence is not the natural order of things; it is learned behaviour that can be unlearned. Violence is rooted in inequality and therefore there is a need for children to learn about and address the impacts of various forms of inequality.

The Premiers task force identified a number of issues that were raised repeatedly, such as students wanting education on gender sensitivities, respectful relationships, the meaning of consent, internet and online safety, violence and abuse (p. 32).  Despite this, none of the 82 recommendations address these concerns. It is time for an updated sex education curriculum, encompassing kindergarten to grade 12 – that is age and developmentally appropriate which includes:  healthy relationships, consent, gender inequality, LGTBQ experiences, sexual health and conflict resolution.

Updated education curriculum such as this has been launched in Ontario. Sex education is part of the “Healthy Living” section, under the category of Human Development and Sexual Health, which makes up about 10 % of their curriculum. This curriculum provides students with the opportunity to learn information that can help them to make healthy decisions surrounding food, safety at home, school and in the community, alcohol and other substances, sexual activity.” (https://www.ontario.ca/page/sex-education-ontario)

We implore the members of the task force, the Minister for Education and the Premier, to strike an immediate committee of experts to inform the taskforce how to include this curriculum change immediately and as part of the report.

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Media contact:

Paula Sheppard Thibeau

Executive Director

Corner Brook Status of Women Council

709-639-8522

cbwomenscentre@gmail.com

 

Jenny Wright | Executive Director

St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre

P709.753.0220

jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

 

PANSOW is a grass roots, feminist & non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in NL

PANSOW: statement of concern for Beatrice Hunter

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is issuing a statement of concern that the human and cultural rights of Beatrice Hunter are not being upheld and we call on Justice Minister Andrew Parsons to ensure the politicized nature of the charge does not prevent her receiving just, culturally appropriate and human rights based treatment while incarcerated.

  • We are concerned that an Inuk woman has been moved far away from her family, community and cultural supports and is now detained at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary – a prison for men.

  • We are concerned that she has been denied visits from her family, advocates and the media.

  • We are concerned that she receives timely, appropriate cultural supports, healthcare and access to canteen.

We ask Justice Minister Andrew Parsons to provide oversight and safeguard the human rights of Beatrice Hunter during her incarceration and subsequent trial.

Respectfully,

Co-Chair Jenny Wright

Executive Director, St. John’s Status of Women

jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

 

Co-Chair Janice Kennedy

Executive Director BSG Status of Women

executivedirector.bsgswc@gmail.com

 

PANSOW consists of the eight Executive Directors of the Status of Women Councils of Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW applies a ‘provincial lens’ to issues of equality and ensures a public voice for women from a non-partisan, grassroots, and feminist perspective.  PANSOW’s mandate is to advocate and to lobby for gender equity.

PANSOW: Open Letter in Support of Bill C-16

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is in support of Bill C-16, to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.

Bill C-16 also amends the Criminal Code to extend the protection against hate propaganda set out in that Act to any section of the public that is distinguished by gender identity or expression and to clearly set out that evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance that a court must take into consideration when it imposes a sentence.

People who are transgender (trans) experience discrimination, harassment and violence because of their gender identity or gender expression.  People who are trans, two-spirit, and/or gender non-conforming are vital members of our communities, and yet continue to experience profound marginalization and alarming rates of violence. Beyond Bill C-16 we must continue:

to make schools safe for trans students and students questioning their gender identity;

to tear down barriers to employment for trans people and create safer workplaces;

to ensure access to affordable and appropriate healthcare services;

to work with law enforcement to improve training and responses to crimes committed against trans people.

As a network of Women’s Centres throughout the province of Newfoundland and Labrador we fiercely strive for gender equity and this includes gender equality for trans women and being allied in support of all transgender, two-spirit and gender non-conforming people in our communities. We are committed to being trans inclusive, and to value and grow through the voice and leadership of trans people.

We call on all Women’s Centres and women-serving organizations across Canada to ensure our work is always human rights based, including the dismantling of binary and heteronormative discourses, and the inclusion of trans women throughout our organizations.

To feminist organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador who wish to join us in support of Bill C-16 and co-sign this letter, please contact us.

In solidarity,

Co-Chair Janice Kennedy

Executive Director BSG Status of Women

executivedirector.bsgswc@gmail.com

Co-Chair Jenny Wright

Executive Director, St. John’s Status of Women

jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

PANSOW is a network of all Status of Women Councils of Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW applies a ‘provincial lens’ to issues of equality and ensures a public voice for women from a non-partisan, grassroots, and feminist perspective. 

 

PANSOW calls on Minister of Justice to implement program offering free legal advice to victims of sexual assault.

February 27, 2017

 

Honourable Andrew Parsons, Minister for Justice & Public Safety

Cc: Honourable Cathy Bennett, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women

 Re: Free legal advice for sexual assault victims

We were pleased to hear last year that you were considering implementing a program which offered 3 free hours of legal advice to victims of sexual assault – similar to the program in Ontario.

We respectfully request that the Ministry of Justice implement this program immediately.  We believe this program will help victims to be informed and to navigate an often adversarial and complex system.

YWCA Canada has published research that shows “there are convictions in only .3% of the 460,000 sexual assaults that occur annually in Canada. That means 99.7% of sexual assaults do not result in legal sanctions by the criminal justice system.” Many women who are sexually assaulted often experience victim blaming and feel re-victimized when they report sexual assault and go through the legal process (Canadian Women’s Foundation). Here in our province, 1 in 2 women and girls in Newfoundland and Labrador will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.

We cannot increase reporting if we do not remove barriers, and ensure victims are treated with respect and with dignity by our criminal justice system.

We offer our expertise and support in adapting this program in Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

Respectfully,

Jenny Wright

PANSOW Chair, Executive Director, St. John’s Status of Women Council

709-753-0220

Janice Kennedy,

PANSOW Co Chair, Executive Director, Bay St. George Status of Women Council

 Tel: 709.643.4444

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grass roots, feminist organization & nonpartisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women.

 

PANSOW wants Baby Box for every child born in the province

Baby boxes first designed in Finland to ensure that every child born receives necessities (clothes, blankets and the box to sleep in) is a vital and preventative pre-and postnatal care policy. 

They support healthy infant development, maternal health and knowledge and they can serve to level poverty. The educational information within the boxes is critical in reducing infant mortality and supports healthy maternal mental health and parenting skills.

We commend the distribution of baby boxes in Indigenous and rural communities where access to healthcare and specifically pediatric care is lacking or non-existent. We now ask that the government of Newfoundland and Labrador quickly adapt this as a standardized healthcare policy and practice and fully fund this project to ensure that every child born in this province receives one.

This practice is an important step in closing the healthcare gap in rural and indigenous communities, creating healthier outcomes for families throughout the province and demonstrating this governments committment to infant and maternal care.

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grass roots, feminist organization & nonpartisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women.