Up to 40 % of HIV/Hep C organizations across Canada have been defunded under the HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund, the new funding cycle from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Although a year of transitional funding has been put into place by PHAC, the reality is that at the end of that transition period, many organizations will be forced to close their doors or change their services in very significant ways. These changes will daily impact the health outcomes of thousands of Canadians because these organizations put prevention and the social determinants of health at the core of their work.
We will be sharing these organizations’ stories, stories of resiliency in our darkest hour, because their stories are what make our movement what it is.
Northern Healthy Connections Society
The Community Action Fund process will gravely impact the Northern Healthy Connections Society, as without some support from PHAC the doors will most likely close in March of 2017.
This organization, like most across the country, has never received funding to cover operational or core expenses. They only had one federally funded project, Hep C Aware, and its funding covered just one staff position and the office space, phone line and materials for it.
Additional funding from PHAC came through amendments with a provincial organization, which provided wages for an additional front line worker for four days a week. All other funding came via smaller grants through various sources, such as targeted work, and fundraising, such as the Scotiabank AIDS Walk, auctions, etc.
By not being approved to move forward in the Community Action Fund process, and without at least the money to maintain the two staff positions, there will probably no other option but to close. There may be an opportunity to get some funds through the province, but they are as yet unsure if this is will happen.
Given that the highest rate of HCV in Nova Scotia is in Cumberland County, which is served by the Northern Healthy Connections Society, and the 3rd highest rate is in Colchester County, where they are located, closing the doors will have a huge impact on the communities of Northern Nova Scotia. Additionally, the population of people using intravenous drugs is growing and the need is there. Finally, there are also concerns about the rates of STIs in the area, with Truro having the highest rate of Chlamydia in northern Nova Scotia.