Question Period: Red Dress Alert System

By: The Hon. Jane Cordy

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Hon. Jane Cordy: Senator Gold, Indigenous women are four times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be victims of violence. Indigenous women make up 16% of all female homicide victims and 11% of missing women, yet Indigenous people make up only 4.3% of the population of Canada.

Last month in the other place, a motion declaring the continued loss of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people a Canada-wide emergency passed with unanimous consent. The motion also called on the federal government to provide immediate and substantial investment including a red dress alert system to help alert the public when an Indigenous woman, girl or two-spirit person goes missing.

Senator Gold, this motion received unanimous support in the House of Commons, and this includes support by the government.

My question will be to the point: Does the government intend to act on this motion and will the government work to develop an alert system for missing Indigenous women?


Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question.

The government remains committed to ending the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples.

While the conditions for most public alerts are, as we all know, set by provinces and territories, as is the decision to set up a new alerting program, the government has made a whole-of-government commitment to do its part to end the crisis of violence against Indigenous women and girls and will and must explore all avenues to do so.

That is why I’m advised that the government is investing $2.5 million to establish a standing federal-provincial-territorial Indigenous table on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and to ensure action at all levels of government, including the implementation of a Red Dress alert.

Senator Cordy: Thank you, Senator Gold. That is very positive.

We know that a motion made in the other place — or in this place — does not necessarily compel the government to act; although, you have said that they will be doing that, which is a positive thing.

As you stated, the alert systems are the jurisdictions of the provinces and territories. My question is: Will the federal government take a leadership role so that it is not just one province or one territory but, in fact, the whole country? Will the federal government take a leadership role to make the alert system a reality, and will the federal government provide some funding to help the provinces and the territories set up the alert system?

Senator Gold: Thank you for the question.

Although I am not familiar with all of the details as to how the $2.5 million will be allocated, as I said, it will be allocated to set up the standing Indigenous table on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and to include the implementation of a Red Dress alert.

I will bring your question to the attention of the appropriate minister or ministers, but this is a very important start on which the federal government is taking the lead.

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