KAIROS wish list 2022
As Canada and the world grapples with multiple crises, including pandemic related impacts and extreme weather events fueled by global heating, KAIROS calls on all levels of government in Canada to prioritize a just and equitable recovery. This includes a net zero emissions transition, decolonization, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, global vaccine equity, and support for human rights and corporate accountability worldwide.
Much of KAIROS’ advocacy wish list for 2022 is a repeat of 2021, with two notable exceptions. KAIROS celebrated when Parliament passed into law the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) Act, and the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act – two long-standing wishes.
More must be done, of course. Several items have been on the wish list for years, while others are new and reflect the changing times, including growing inequities exposed by the pandemic.
That the Canadian government, provinces and territories:
- Works with Indigenous family members and survivors, gender-diverse people, and Indigenous nations and organizations, to develop a transparent and accountable National Action Plan to fully implement the 231 Calls for Justice of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
- Fully implements the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) Call to Action 62.i, that urges provinces and territories to make mandatory from Kindergarten to grade 12 “curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada….” There can be no backsliding.
That the Canadian government:
On Ecological Justice
- Upholds the rights, knowledge, and sovereignty of Indigenous Peoples in all climate- and water-related policy decision-making. Develops environmental policies rooted in Indigenous self-determination and consistent with UNDRIP.
- Ends all foreign and domestic subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and bans all new fossil fuel development projects, including pipelines, liquefied natural gas terminals, offshore drilling, and fracking wells.
- Passes just transition legislation that is developed in consultation with workers, unions, Indigenous Peoples, and communities, and creates more opportunities in the clean energy economy for workers from historically marginalized groups, including women, Indigenous peoples, and racialized Canadians.
- Passes legislation for the development of a national strategy to redress environmental racism.
- Passes legislation to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and recognize the right to a healthy environment.
- Commits at least $1.8 billion annually in bilateral climate finance for the Global South that is gender-responsive, addresses both mitigation and adaptation, responds to the pandemic, supports the leadership of women in climate decision-making, and prioritizes funding for grassroots women’s organizations through grants-based, non-multilateral funding mechanisms.
On Gender Justice – Corporate Accountability
- Grants the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) powers to investigate allegations of environmental and human rights violations by Canadian companies and their subsidiaries.
- Enacts legislation requiring that Canadian companies operating abroad and their subsidiaries and supply chains to undergo mandatory human rights due diligence.
- Adopts and fully implements a legal framework requiring extractive corporations to conduct consultations according to local traditional practices. These processes must fully engage women and guarantee that communities near extractive project sites determine if and how a project will move forward.
- Facilitates access to Canadian courts for overseas plaintiffs claiming harm by the actions of Canadian mining companies.
On Gender Justice – Women, Peace and Security
- Develops with the full and meaningful representation of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour, particularly women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, a Feminist Foreign Policy that is grounded in Indigenous and racial justice, is human rights-based and intersectional, and does not allow economic and corporate interests to obstruct these principles.
- Fully funds and implements the Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP), increases official development assistance to the international standard of 0.7 percent, and ensures this funding reaches grassroots women’s rights and peacebuilding organizations, including to support their recovery and transformation efforts in response to the pandemic. This funding must be flexible, predictable, and long-term.
- Invites and supports women peacebuilders and women-led human rights organizations to consult on all policy development and peace processes.
- Funds initiatives led by women human rights defenders and women’s rights organizations that strengthen the women, peace, and security agenda, economically empower women, girls, and women’s rights organizations, and address the climate crisis. This includes funding grassroots women’s organizations to monitor and reduce conflict at the local level.
- Advocates with governments of countries in conflict and at the UN to increase space for women to participate in peace processes at local, national, and international levels and ensure that the lives and rights of these women are protected.
- Speaks out in support of international human rights and against military occupation, and champions efforts at the International criminal Court and the International Court of Justice seeking justice for victims of alleged war crimes against humanity committed during armed conflict.
On Global Climate Justice and Women, Peace and Security Nexus
- Strengthens its feminist foreign policy and understanding of security by allocating resources to the nexus between the Women, Peace and Security agenda and environmental justice.
- Commits to grants-based climate funding that builds capacity and expands the influence of Global South grassroots women’s organizations and movements in an integrated, feminist global approach to the climate crisis, peace and security.
On Indigenous Rights
- Fully implements TRC Call to Action 93, which calls on the government, in collaboration with national Indigenous organizations, “to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and its citizenship test to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including information about the Treaties and the history of residential schools.”
- Works with Indigenous peoples and organizations to ensure the $40-billion settlement with Indigenous groups regarding the systemic underfunding of child welfare services is implemented as quickly and effectively as possible upon approval and finalization.
On Migrant Justice
- Ends temporary migration and returns to permanent residency as the strategy to strengthen and build a welcoming and inclusive country. Addresses the issues facing people without status by introducing a long-term public policy to regularize their status and become permanent residents.
- Expands its support and protection of foreign temporary migrant workers travelling to Canada and those in the country during the pandemic, ensuring access to benefits and services such as – but not limited to – COVID-19 testing upon arrival, vaccination on-site at all ports of entry, and income supplements when adhering to mandatory isolation.
- Improves collaboration and communication between Employment and Social Development Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for better service delivery and to close gaps and loopholes in initiatives designed to support temporary foreign workers. Ensures that temporary overseas essential workers and migrant justice organizations are fully consulted in the development of policies that affect them.
- Takes the lead in drafting an International Protocol to recognize and protect the rights of climate affected and forced migrants and lobbies the United Nations for its adoption and ratification.
- Recognizes migrant workers who escape climate-related emergencies in their home countries as climate refugees rather than “economic migrants.”
On Vaccine Equity
- Becomes a global leader by leveraging its position in multilateral spaces including the UN, WHO, and WTO, to develop a global plan for equity and justice in the production, access, and distribution of vaccines worldwide. This will include:
- Increased financial support to COVAX and urgent and effective redistribution of Canada’s purchased and committed vaccine doses to COVAX.
- Support for the suspension of the international Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to allow vaccines to be produced more quickly and affordably around the world.
- Increased Official Development Assistance to countries most affected by COVID-19 with funding specially designated for community-based health organizations and local women’s organizations.
2021 Wish Assessment
The pandemic dominated Canada’s focus in 2021, as did a federal election and several extreme weather events in British Columbia fueled by global heating. Much energy and attention were devoted to vaccination rollouts and new variants, as well as emergency responses, with sentiments of “building back better” later.
While the pandemic and extreme weather events have exposed profound systemic injustices and vulnerabilities, little has been done address underlying issues. Marginalized communities in Canada and worldwide continue to struggle.
Migrant workers still face unsafe working and living conditions and have limited access to health care.
Those who are elderly, racialized, or on limited income continue to be more at risk to COVID-19, as well as to extreme weather events. And much of the world remains unvaccinated because wealthier nations prioritize their own citizens and the interests of Big Pharma over a mass global vaccination effort.
Indigenous peoples, particularly women, struggle to be heard in a time when all Canadians must be invested in reconciliation. Canadian governments and companies do not consult Indigenous women on resource extraction projects proposed for their communities. However, these projects tend to impact women the most through increases in gender-based and sexual violence and environmental harms. This situation must change, especially at a time when mining in support of renewable energy is on the rise in the absence of corporate accountability. As Indigenous women continue to be subject to violent attacks, including when defending the environment, the Canadian government continues to stall on presenting its National Action Plan to fully implement the 231 Calls for Justice of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Amidst the struggles, we celebrated when Parliament passed Bill C-15 – the long-awaited UNDRIP legislation. KAIROS and its network pressed for this for more than a decade through the Let Justice Roll campaign. This Act will ensure Canada’s laws are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. KAIROS will monitor the government’s progress on the UN Declaration action plan, which must be implemented within two years.
Passage of UNDRIP legislation fulfills the TRC’s Call to Action 43. KAIROS will continue to monitor TRC Call to Action 62.1 (Education for Reconciliation) and Call to Action 93 (Newcomers to Canada), which have stalled.
We were also pleased by several announcements to tackle the climate crisis, most significantly the passage of the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. And, KAIROS applauded when the government announced it will implement a declining cap on greenhouse gas emissions from Canada’s oil and gas industry – a first in Canada!
Other developments of note were significant commitments and investments to support Canada’s A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy climate plan. This included increasing Canada’s emissions reduction target under the Paris Agreement – known as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – by 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. We urge the government to increase this figure to 60 percent but acknowledge that 40-45 percent is a step in the right direction.
At the 2021 G7 Leaders’ Summit, Canada announced a doubling of its international climate finance commitment, to $5.3 billion over the next five years, falling short of the $1.8B annual commitment called for by KAIROS. At this time, it is unclear how this funding will be administered. KAIROS calls for global financing that is gender-responsive, targets adaptation and mitigation, responds to the pandemic, and supports the leadership of women in climate decision-making.
The government also announced it is investing more than $185 million to support coal workers and their communities through the transition to cleaner energy, and up to $1 billion for the Climate Investment Funds Accelerated Coal Transition Investment Program.
We were disappointed when the Canadian government did not commit to ending domestic federal subsidies when it announced at COP26 that it would end foreign subsidies in support of fossil fuel.
When the 43rd Parliament dissolved due to the election, so too did important bills, one of which was Bill C-230, an Act respecting the development of a national strategy to redress environmental racism. The government promised to introduce this legislation in the current Parliament, and KAIROS will hold the government to this promise.
Despite the Canadian government’s promotion of Canadian mining’s role in the green energy transformation, it did nothing in 2021 to improve corporate accountability oversight of Canadians mining companies. KAIROS will monitor the anticipated tabling of two private members bills: one on Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence Legislation and the other on legislation to empower the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE).
Canada is well positioned to play a lead role in advancing feminist foreign policies, but has not yet announced its Feminist Foreign Policy, promised last year. KAIROS continues to call for a policy that is grounded in Indigenous and racial justice, is human rights based and intersectional, and demands corporate accountability.
KAIROS welcomed the commitment in the Speech from the Throne delivered by Governor General Mary Simons in November 2021 committing to increasing “Canada’s foreign assistance budget each year, and investing in sustainable, equitable, and feminist development that benefits the world’s most vulnerable and promotes gender equality.” We wait to see how these commitments affect funding of Overseas Development Assistance and women rights organizations, especially given the gendered impacts of war, the climate crisis, and the pandemic, and the role of women as powerful agents for positive change.
Support for women-led organizations is a critical investment in building back better, as is support for temporary foreign workers who are integral to essential sectors such as food and care.
In April 2021, the federal government announced it was granting permanent residency to more than 90,000 temporary foreign workers and graduated international students. While this seemed like welcome news, the initiative was time-limited and fraught with significant problems – including technical glitches – that undermined the application process. Moreover, this pathway was available only to individuals with valid work permits, leaving thousands of undocumented workers in limbo, including those who left abusive employers or were laid off due to the pandemic. This situation is the latest example of why granting status for all essential overseas workers is the only efficient and humane option to address Canada’s chronic labour shortages.
Throughout 2021, KAIROS managed a federally funded project providing emergency supports and assistance to migrant workers during the pandemic in collaboration with migrant rights partners in Ontario and the Maritimes. While KAIROS is grateful for the government support that has helped migrant workers receive the information and assistance they need during the pandemic, it urges the federal government to expand its support and protection of these workers and improve collaboration and coherence between key government departments.
Migrant workers, women peacebuilders, women land defenders, Indigenous peoples, and others are struggling through multiple crises. They also have the potential to be key catalysts and actors in a just, sustainable, and equitable post-pandemic recovery and net-zero transition. While temporary support helps, the government has an opportunity to work in partnership with these essential communities, supporting them as lead agents for positive change. May 2022 be the year when Canada makes this happen.