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Manitoba To Create New Gender Equality Secretariat To Coordination Work on 2SLGBTQQIA+ Issues

To support the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community, the Manitoba government is creating a new Gender Equity Manitoba (GEM) Secretariat. The administration division is to meet the increasing need for community-specific services to the 2SLGBTQQIA+ (Two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual) population. 

According to a release from the government, the GEM Secretariat will see the Manitoba Status of Women Secretariat’s mandate expanded with a broader focus. Other changes include the Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council will be changed to the Gender Equity Council and the Family Violence Prevention Program will be changed to the Gender-Based Violence Program. With the broader focus on gender equity and the expanded mandate, GEM will include two full-time equivalent positions to provide needed experiences on issues facing the 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals. GEM will be a regular point of contact between government and community groups serving the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community.

In Canada, 2SLGBTQQIA+ or other sexual minority people were almost three times more likely than heterosexual Canadians to report that they had been physically or sexually assaulted and are nearly twice as likely to experience inappropriate sexual behaviours in public online or at work.

Approximately 4 per cent of the Canadian population identifies as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and 0.24 per cent identify as transgender. As more continue to feel comfortable coming out and living authentically, resources and organizations that provide guidance and support are paramount. These resources are more critical than ever, as there has been an increase in hate crimes over the past few years. Between 2019 and 2021, police-reported crimes based on sexual orientation rose nearly 60 per cent. 

To support community-specific services, GEM will include an increased budget to coordinate cross-departmental work on 2SLGBTQQIA+ issues and support the community with a new granting program. Pride Winnipeg will be the first to be awarded this grant to support permanent staffing and expand pride activities across the province in dedicated annual support from GEM of $250,000.

“After 36 years, it is truly amazing to finally have core funding in place for not only Pride Winnipeg’s future but for a future for the growing numbers of prides in our province. We have been working towards this goal for over three decades,” said Barry Karlenzig, president of Pride Winnipeg. “This announcement today signifies the importance of prides around the province and the crucial funding they require to provide safe spaces for our 2SLGBTTQQIA+ community.”

The government is also investing in improving access to care and reducing wait times for gender-affirming care for youth and adults, nearly $490,000 over two years and new annual Manitoba government funding of more than $700,000 Klinic Community Health Centre and Shared Health’s Gender Diversity and Affirming Action for Youth (GDAAY) program. The GDAAY program will provide significant and immediate care to individuals 15 and older through Klinic’s adult trans health team. The funding will help build the program’s care team and double clinic services from 2.5 to five days a week. Care teams include pediatric experts with experience in developmental pediatrics, adolescent medicine, pediatric endocrinology, and child and adolescent mental health. 

A pride flag-raising ceremony will take place May 26 at Memorial Park, and the Legislative Building will be lit with a rainbow from May 31 to June 4 to mark Pride week. 

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

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