Moving Forward Together: Forum / Annual Meeting Update

Dear CAS members,

The past year was a tumultuous period for the Canadian AIDS Society and for the HIV/AIDS movement as a whole – in fact, the word crisis is not too strong a term to describe it.

Let’s not kid ourselves: there have been significant costs associated with this period of turmoil ­– both monetary and emotional costs as CAS strived to both manage the crisis and simultaneously begin a period of renewal.

From what several member organizations have been telling us, there have been various facets of discontent for some time; so it makes sense that things cannot be fixed overnight.

At CAS, we fully acknowledge that we must accept a part of the responsibility for this discontent. Throughout this process, our goal has been to find ways to reactivate dialogue and build bridges with our member organizations, non-members and PLWHIV in order to return to our roots and recapture the ideal of being a movement with a shared vision.

Finding Common Ground

By and large, we are making progress; perhaps not as rapidly as some may hope … but we are starting to move in the right direction. While some of the logistics of this year’s Forum and Annual Meeting in Winnipeg appeared to be somewhat compressed (it was after all the first Forum/Annual Meeting organized outside of Ottawa in several years), the overall tone of the meetings was decidedly positive and constructive.

To be sure, while some hesitation remains in our movement as to the best way to move forward, discussions centered clearly on how to find common ground amongst ourselves in order to do so. We will be working closely with CAS membership in the months ahead to create opportunities to further define our shared needs to strengthen the future of the HIV movement in Canada. (expect more details on a new process of consultation/interaction with members in the weeks ahead)

So let’s recap recent events in a nutshell:

  • The PLWHIV Forum elected several new regional representatives to the CAS Board of Directors. This year’s Forum also highlighted the changing realities of PLWHIV (e.g. nowadays PLWHIV can maintain employment); that face-to-face meetings for PLWHIV remain relevant and should be lengthened if possible; that CAS should extend accessibility of such meetings and that regional events such as Winnipeg are a welcome beginning.
  • The Annual Meeting and Members’ Caucus: These points stand out from our meeting: First, there remains a need for better and more interactive communications between CAS and members organizations. Second, the draft Strategic Plan requires more clarity and members requested that they be involved in the final drafting of this evolving and living document.
  • CAS budget for 2016-17: Government federal funding for CAS accounts for 42% of our budget and is earmarked for specific projects. The remaining 58%, derived from fundraising activities, creates flexibility for CAS to advocate … and organize such things as harm reduction strategies and a national AIDS Walk. While a majority of member organizations voted in favour of the CAS 2016-17 budget, following up on a 155K deficit last year, concerns were expressed by some members regarding how CAS will achieve a balanced budget. Indeed, CAS is moving towards new strategies to raise funds in the private sector.
  • Role of CPPN: With only 144 members out of a total of 74,000 PLWHIV in Canada, some CAS members spoke of the lack of representation of the Canadian Positive People’s Network. CAS reiterated that our movement as a whole needs to allow CPPN space and time to grow, and some participants also stated that they still want CAS to be their voice at the national level.

Short term work plans

Meanwhile CAS has submitted some exciting new member-focused projects for the 2017-2021 time frame (through the LOI process), we remain committed to several on-going initiatives during 2016-2017 that can be of direct benefit CAS members. To summarize, these are:

  • The People Living with HIV/AIDS Forum and CAS Annual Meeting. (recently held in Winnipeg)
  • The Scotiabank AIDS Walk.
  • GIPA Training Toolkit for ASOs.
  • World AIDS Day National Campaign.
  • Trans Community Webinars.
  • Harm Reduction Initiatives.

More to Come

This is another of several communications we are planning in the days and weeks ahead. Our aim is to keep these succinct and relevant. Be on the lookout for updates relating to:

  • Resolutions voted on at the PLWHIV Forum and Annual Meeting.
  • Details on a new process of consultation/interaction with members using Basecamp.

Look forward to working with you.


Gary Lacasse

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