April 18, 2019
The Honourable Serge Joyal
The Senate of Canada
Dear Senator Joyal,
On behalf of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW), I am writing to express our association’s fervent support for Bill 260, An act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy). Conversion therapy is not evidence based and can cause great harm – especially among children and youth – and we thank you for your leadership in bringing this important Bill forward.
To provide some background about our organization, CASW is the national professional association for social workers in Canada, with a dual mandate to support the profession and advance issues of social justice. There are approximately 50,000 social workers in Canada, and these trained professionals follow a Code of Ethics that emphasizes self-determination of all individuals and the critical importance of doing-no-harm; social workers also strongly support evidence-based practice.
In 2018, CASW released a position paper strongly condemning all forms of conversion therapy, defined as “any therapy with the goal of repairing or converting an individual’s sexual orientation, regardless of age.”
While we strongly support your Bill as a first step toward supporting, affirming, and protecting children from grievous harm, I would be remiss if I did not mention our deep disappointment in Minister Lametti’s comments that Conversion Therapy could not be banned outright in our country because he views this as a provincial/territorial matter. It is CASW’s position that such a change can, and should, be made to the Criminal Code of Canada, and that this change would greatly support the safety, well-being, and health of all those who call our country home.
Again, our Association and our profession thank you for your leadership in introducing Bill S-260. Banning both advertising about and profiting from these harmful practices geared toward children and youth is a commendable step. We will continue to push this and future federal governments toward a Canada free of conversion therapy, regardless of age or any other demographic factors.
Fred Phelps MSW, RSW
cc. The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada