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Declaration on Religious Arbitration in Family Law

Updated: Jan 17, 2022

Declaration on Religious Arbitration in Family Law

The following groups and organizations have come together out of concern for the application of any religious laws in family matters using the Arbitration Act in Ontario, pursuant to Marion Boyd’s report entitled Protecting Choice, Promoting Inclusion.

Notwithstanding Ms Boyd’s assurances to the contrary, we are shocked by the possibility of the erosion of equality rights as guaranteed in Sections 15 and 28, of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our statement reflects a common position that the recommendations advanced in this report sanction the erosion of women’s equality rights under the laws of Ontario. We believe that the Arbitration Act was never designed to accommodate family matters but was conceived of as a vehicle for commercial disputes. Stretched to this purpose, even with Ms. Boyd’s “safeguards”, it would effectively put at risk decades of legal reform in keeping with an equality and equal rights framework.

Our diverse organizations share one purpose with respect to:

  • Exclusive use of family law legislation for the resolution of family disputes regardless of faith, ethnicity and culture

  • No religious arbitration and/or any principles, which would undermine the equality guarantees of the Charter in the resolution of family matters

We are supported by an international coalition of groups watching closely the Ontario government’s decision in relation to Boyd’s report. Their concern for the potential erosion of women’s rights within constitutional democracies based on religious justifications is in keeping with the provisions of the Canadian Charter, and with international agreements (i.e.. the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to which Canada is a signatory. We demand that the Government of Ontario both understand the intent of these agreements and ensure that domestic laws and regulations are not in contravention of them.


International Campaign against Sharia Court in Canada/

Organisation nationale des femmes immigrantes et des femmes appartenant à une minorité visible

National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) / Association nationale femmes et droit (ANFD)

Organization for Women’s Liberation/

Rights and Democracy / Droits et démocratie

Canadian Council of Muslim Women,

YWCA of Toronto / YWCA Toronto

Education Wife Assault

Multicultural Women's Organization of Newfoundland and Labrador

Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes

Nelson House of Ottawa Carleton

Mouvement ontarien des femmes immigrantes francophones (MOFIF)

Provincial Council of Women of Ontario / Le conseil provincial des femmes de l’Ontario

Provincial Council of Women of Québec / Le Conseil provincial des femmes du Québec

Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH)

Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre

Pictou County Women's Centre

Mouvement contre le viol et l'inceste.

Fédération des femmes du Québec (FFQ)

l'Association des femmes immigrantes de l'Outaouais

MATCH International Centre / Centre International MATCH

Canadian Labour Congress / Congrès du travail du Canada

Ontario Federation of Labour

Le Réseau socioaction des femmes francophones

Interlude House / Maison Interlude

Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre

Centre Victoria pour femmes (Sudbury)

Transition House (Thunder Bay)

L’R des centres de femmes du Québec

l’Association canadienne des centres contre les agressions à caractère sexuel (ACCCACS) / Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers (CASAC)

L'équipe de La Passerelle

L'Association des femmes immigrantes de l'Outaouais

Le Centre “Au Coeur des Femmes”

Le Centre "Entre-Femmes"

L'association pour les droits de la femme et le développement (AWID) / Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)

La Marg'elle de St-Rémi

Mouvement contre le viol et l'inceste (MCVI)

Fédération nationale des femmes canadiennes françaises

Centre D'Main des Femmes

Réseau socioaction des femmes francophones de l'Est ontarien

Interval House of Ottawa

la Table féministe francophone de concertation provinciale de l’Ontario\

YWCA Canada,

Ontario Women’s Justice Network

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