Many PAN and allied organizations are now undergoing a sustainability crisis due to the current restructuring of federal funding for community-based HIV and HCV services by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the federal government. Come April 1st, 2017, key organizations that deliver essential front line HIV, HCV and related services across BC, are at risk of halting or downsizing, as they will no longer be receiving federal funding. Those slated for “defunding” include (but are not limited to):
- AIDS Vancouver (Metro Vancouver): Major volunteer support and coordination, resulting in the loss of more than 11,000 volunteer hours annually and consequent loss of a host of volunteer-based prevention, education and support programs
- ANKORS (Nelson, Cranbrook, east and west Kootenays): HIV, Hepatitis C and other STBBI prevention and education programs in 24 Kootenay communities, peer development work with the Rural Empowered Drug User Network (aimed at “hidden” populations of People Who Inject Drugs), and (in partnership with Living Positive Resource Centre), the Men’s Health Initiative in Kelowna
- Positive Living BC (Lower Mainland and province-wide): Prison Outreach (assistance, education, release preparation, societal re-integration), annual Positive Gathering of, by and for people living with HIV, and individual advocacy services
- Positive Living Fraser Valley (Abbotsford and area) and Lookout Emergency Aid Society (Surrey): Drop-in centre, support groups, counselling, food (food bank, hampers and weekly lunch), HIV/HCV education, medical transport – and possible total closure of PLFV
- Positive Living North (Prince George and area): The widely praised “Fire Pit” Program, a low barrier drop-in for those living with and at risk of HIV and HCV, the majority of whom are Indigenous
- Positive Women’s Network (Lower Mainland and province-wide): Direct service programs (food program, lunch-and-learns, hot meals, one on one counselling, peer mentorship), retreats, and education resource creation — and possible total agency closure
- Red Road HIV/AIDS Network (Province-wide): “Bloodlines” magazine, a full-color magazine featuring Aboriginal Persons Living with HIV/AIDS where they can share their personal experiences, discuss issues affecting them, and offer advice and suggestions to their peers
Meanwhile, other groups, such as the Pacific Hepatitis C Network and HepCBC (devoted to HCV related issues including prevention, treatment access and supports for people living with HCV), will continue to not receive any funding under the new funding regime. With approximately 80,000 people living with HCV in BC, this too is of great concern.
All told, this represents a critical loss of regional capacity, expertise and infrastructure, a significant potential loss for the domestic response to HIV and HCV here in BC! Also, particularly alarming, given that here in BC we are in a state of a public health emergency and some of the organizations not being funded are key players in responding to the overdose crisis.
On November 2nd, a letter was sent from PAN to the federal Minister of Health, Dr. Philpott, which outlined our shared concerns. You can see that letter by clicking here.
On December 13th we received Dr. Philpott’s response. To see the letter from the Minister of Health, click here.