This post is to update you on some of the latest activities by the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS).
Unfortunately, Federal government funding has been significantly cut to community-based HIV organizations across the country.
While CAS was not successful in securing a contribution agreement from PHAC, we continue to advocate and lobby quite heavily to secure new funding for both the national office and community member organizations, especially those who are currently receiving no funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
These advocacy activities have two tracks.
Media Relations: We continue to work to secure media coverage of the defunding by the federal government of HIV/AIDS organizations doing vital work.
You have all probably seen the quilt.ca press release. Our strategy behind the release was to re-engage a discussion with the press and to push the government for change. The press release, combined with the Missing Millions article by the Canadian HIV Legal Network, was successful in achieving some appointments with MPs: http://www.aidslaw.ca/site/the-missing-millions/?lang=en
Here are links to two recent and strong news stories: https://ipolitics.ca/2018/04/24/dozens-of-hiv-aids-organizations-struggling-from-lost-funding/
Government Relations: CAS continues to secure engagement and support from Members of Parliament – from all political parties – who have organizations in their ridings that have been negatively impacted by the PHAC cuts.
We also continue to communicate with senior government officials – in the bureaucracy and Minister of Health’s office. These senior officials claim to value the work of CAS’ and community HIV organizations and they continue to engage with us as we bring forth new ideas for positive solutions to see our organizations continue the vital work we do.
In this regard, CAS submitted a proposal to Randy Boissonnault, Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues, for funding.
As well, at a recent meeting with Randy, he indicated he is working with the Health Minister to ensure some positive changes to the landscape, in the 2019-2020 timeframe. This means CAS will be focusing on supporting grassroots organizations for 2020, as well as trying to secure some crucial interim funding for this fiscal year.
Goss Gilroy: By now we have all communicated our thoughts to Goss Gilroy, the firm hired by PHAC to review the LOI process; we hope the outcomes will be a catalyst for change for the better.
CAS’ Immediate Future: We are happy to announce that CAS will not be closing. We have some impactful funding with Canopy Growth for the development of medical guidelines, the launch of the first national HIV Testing Day this June 27th (although this is a pilot, we hope to roll this project out to more communities next year), our contribution agreement with Health Canada to support CAPUD in the realization of engaging and empowering people who use drugs in policymaking, and other emerging projects. We are also in the midst of moving our offices to a new location that meets our more modest current needs.
This year will be a year of rebranding, introspection, revisiting our pillars, and engaging more conversations around HIV and other STBBIs as we move forward so that collectively we can ensure effective change!
Your continued support and outreach to your local Member(s) of Parliament to advocate for renewed federal government support to reduce HIV infections remain vital. Meanwhile, we will keep focusing on our dialogue with people living with HIV.