2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 145

Thursday, May 28, 2015
The Honourable Leo Housakos, Speaker

Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Week

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I am proud to support Senator Seth’s motion to recognize the second week of May as International Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Week. This will be the first time that the week dedicated to this cause will be held in Canada. Its purpose is to allow stakeholders and policy-makers to come together to discuss the ways in which the health of these three groups can be improved, both within Canada and internationally, in order to sustain a more meaningful impact in this area.

Some of Canada’s main goals in this field are to reduce maternal and infant mortality; to improve the health of mothers and children in the poorest countries of the world; and to promote equal access to health care for all, regardless of gender, race, class or any other factor.

Over the years, I have worked and met many marginalized Canadian women who have suffered from abuse, high levels of stress and postpartum depression during and after pregnancy solely due to their gender or class. I have also spoken to Aboriginal women who have become mothers at a very young age and have therefore been put at an increased risk for physical abuse. This is unacceptable. We must take steps to ensure that all Canadians are able to be healthy, both physically and mentally.

Internationally, Canada has taken measures to advocate for the health of mothers, newborns and children, but these have ultimately been insufficient. Though we created the 2010 G8 Muskoka Initiative which resulted in progress towards reducing infant mortality, malnutrition and the scope of infectious diseases, there are a number of principles and targets that are outlined in that initiative that have not yet been fulfilled.

It is crucial that we live up to this commitment. Millions of women and children still die every year due to pregnancy and childbirth complications. Ninety-nine per cent of these deaths are preventable and it is our duty to do everything we can to prevent them. We must ensure that maternal, newborn and child health continues to be Canada’s central development priority until this is no longer the case.

Honourable senators, I want to take a second to recognize Senator Seth. Although she has retired from the Senate, she has not given up working on the issues that she was working on while she was a senator. I want to thank her on behalf of all of us. I know that she continues working on issues that she was working on here.

Honourable senators, I hope you will join me in supporting the rights of mothers, newborns and children worldwide to live lives that are as healthy as those most privileged amongst us. Thank you.