Immigrant Women's Health Centre

December 07, 2011 10:30 ET

REPEAT: Sexual Health Services for Toronto's Immigrant Women Under Dire Threat from Ford Administration

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 7, 2011) - In an unparalleled attack on sexual health services for Toronto's immigrant women, the Ford administration's Core Services Review is considering a massive cut of $200,000 to the Immigrant Women's Health Centre. The 22.5% cut to its already modest budget will hobble one of Canada's leading lights in the delivery of critical health care services and impair access for thousands of immigrant women.

Bypassing any semblance of democratic process, Mayor Ford's review has precipitated a crisis by silencing those who deliver services and the communities that depend on them. No impact statements have been solicited. Instead, the centre has been given only two minutes to make its case.

The IWHC is not only a pioneer in the delivery of sexual health, it is held in high esteem by hospitals, community centres, the medical profession and clients for the practices and protocols it has developed over more than three decades. "IWHC's expertise in dealing with diverse cultural practices and overcoming the many, many barriers encountered by immigrant populations have resulted in the trust and confidence of women who have accessed our services," said IWHC Board Member Mary di Felice.

"Mayor Ford must not follow in Harper's footsteps, targeting immigrant communities and the service providers they depend on. With Toronto's immigrant population at more than 50%, this is sheer folly. There is a compelling need for more, not less, funding," she said.

By the end of the year, the IWHC will have served almost 5000 women in nine languages in hard-to-reach and marginalized communities. Its celebrated Mobile Health Clinic Program delivered on a 31-ft Winnebago is a traveling medical clinic offering services such as STI screening, emergency contraceptive pills, birth control, pregnancy tests, Pap tests and breast exams, and is staffed entirely by women.

"Imagine having a case of genital warts and not knowing how to communicate your health complaint because English isn't your first language. Or hiding it untreated because of shame and fear. Or suffering in silence because every trip out of the house needs your husband's permission. This is the reality for thousands of immigrant women in this city who rely on our medical staff and service providers," said Ayesha Adhami, Administrative Coordinator.

The IWHC will depute to the City's Budget Committee during its public hearings tomorrow, Wed., Dec. 7th.

Contact Information

  • Ayesha Adhami
    Administrative Coordinator, IWHC

    Dr. Sheila Wijayasinghe
    Medical Director, IWHC