The 2019 federal election is fast approaching, and we have an opportunity to let all candidates, parties and voters know that the HIV, hepatitis C and other STBBIs require a strong federal government response. We also require a strong government response to address (of people who use drugs, of people living with HIV, sex workers, etc.) and combat the ongoing overdose crisis, promote human rights and meet commitments to harm reduction.
We are working with community partners locally and nationally to support PAN members and allies as they assess information that will help them make voting decisions. PAN isn’t suggesting how people should vote, but we are sharing information to consider as you look at your slate of candidates and political party platforms.
HIV, hepatitis C and STBBIs: Joint Election Declaration
PAN is collaborating with partners from across Canada in a campaign asking representatives of each major party for the 2019 federal election to sign a declaration prioritizing a number of actions related to HIV, hepatitis C, and other STBBIs. The declaration is asking the parties to affirm their commitment to end HIV and hepatitis C in Canada by:
1. Ensuring that people living with HIV, people with lived experience of hepatitis C and others with lived experiences are involved in significant roles in the Government of Canada’s response to HIV/AIDS and STBBIs in Canada and abroad.
2. Reaffirming the commitment of Canada to the UNAIDS objectives for the elimination of HIV by 2030 (95-95-95) and to the elimination of HCV by 2030, while affirming the importance of HIV prevention and the quality of life of people living with HIV.
3. Ensuring the sustainability of the front-line, community-based response to HIV, HCV and STBBIs through the stability and growth of the Community Action Fund and other such funding initiatives.
4. Democratizing access to testing for HIV, hepatitis C and other STBBIs by encouraging the development and market availability of testing technologies, including point-of-care tests, dried blood spot tests and self-tests, developed in Canada.
5. Ensuring that the Government of Canada does not create barriers to the provinces’ harm reduction public health interventions, including those aimed at preventing not only HIV but also overdoses and overdose deaths, in recognition of harm reduction as one of the four pillars of the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy.
The full package describing the context of these engagements along with the declarations the candidates are asked to sign can be downloaded here.
This work has been done in collaboration with the Ontario AIDS Network (OAN), the Coalition des organismes communautaires québécois de lutte contre le sida (COCQ-sida), the Alberta Community Council on HIV (ACCH), the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS), and the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN).
Both CAS and the OAN have developed comprehensive election packages to support national advocacy efforts. These packages include information on getting out the vote, backgrounders on the issues at stake, questions for candidates, and social media messages including hashtags and “how to” advice. We’re asking that you consider sharing some of the following hashtags as you post: #CDNpoli #BCPoli #elxn2019 #HIVAdvocacy #HIVote #BCHealth
For more information on the work here in BC, or for a PAN media spokesperson on this issue, please feel free to contact me ([email protected]).
Issues: Proud to Vote Campaign
PAN – along with McLaren Housing – is a local host to a discussion and debate taking place with representatives of all four major parties on key election issues for LGBTQ2S communities this Tuesday, Oct 8, in Vancouver (from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM at The Junction, 1138 Davie Street). Unlike riding-focused debates, this town hall will emphasize a range of issues of interest to LGBTQ2S communities in Canada.
These town halls also taking place in Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, is part of a Canada-wide initiative that also resulted in 216 organizations endorsing a pre-election statement calling on all political parties to commit to ensuring that human rights for sexual and gender minorities are secure in Canada and that our communities continue to be reflected in all areas of federal policy, both domestic and international.
Drugs and Harm Reduction: Advocacy Guide
This election will also define Canada’s response to the opioid overdose crisis and determine whether we will listen to the evidence supporting harm reduction. The accidental poisoning of people who use criminalized drugs by a toxic and unregulated illegal drug supply continues to kill at an alarming rate – in the past four years, more than 11,500 people have died.
The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is calling on all major political parties and their candidates commit to a public health response to the overdose crisis, including support for overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites. The Legal Network has developed a comprehensive advocacy guide to support individuals and organizations in engaging with candidates. We also strongly encourage people to consider signing their petition.
Sex Workers Rights: Solidarity Statement
Sex workers—people who exchange sexual services for money or goods—are criminalized, disproportionately surveilled, overpoliced, and denied their fundamental rights. PAN has added our name to the list of organizations signing a solidarity statement that is being circulated by Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights (a progressive, pro-choice charitable organization committed to advancing and upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally) and the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform.
Eliminating hepatitis C in Canada: Open Letter
In 2016, Canada committed on the world stage to eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030, but we are lagging in terms of progress. If things continue as they are, Canada will not reach our goal until 2050 or later, and people will continue to needlessly suffer. Action Hepatitis Canada has sent an open letter to most federal party leaders, noting the need for real federal leadership if we are to eliminate HCV in Canada, and asking them: If elected, will your government uphold Canada’s WHO commitment to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030? How will you strengthen the STBBI Action Plan to accomplish this, and what accountabilities will you put in place?
These are just some of the initiatives that PAN is aware of and/or participating in, in the countdown to the federal election. We would love to hear from PAN members, if there is another effort you are leading or involved with, or that you want us to know about.
Finally, don’t forget to vote!
Questions? Feedback? Get in touch!
Jennifer (Evin) Jones, Executive Director, [email protected]