Benson, Joilbois and Meili call on Government to Reverse Cuts to AIDS Organizations

The Federal Government must act immediately to properly address this pressing public health issues in Saskatchewan and save lives.

April 26 2018

Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

 

Dear Minister,

As you know, Saskatchewan is experiencing an epidemic – our HIV rates are at 2.5 times higher than the national average, and the numbers are continuing to rise.

For more than a year, health experts have been calling on your government to declare a public health emergency, to no avail.  Instead, your government has cut federal funding to 33% of AIDS organizations.  This short-sighted approach will do nothing to slow the epidemic.

We understand PHAC has announced a new Harm Reduction Fund that provides funding in two-year cycles to address hotspots for Injection Drug Use, and will be seeking Letters of Intent beginning in May. This is welcome news, and we are hopeful that Saskatchewan will be allocated the necessary funds to combat the rising number of HIV infections in our province: the Yorkton Region, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, La Loche, La Ronge, Meadow Lake, and North Battleford are all experiencing HIV rates that far surpass the rest of the country. We would appreciate knowing what the dollar allocations are for each of these communities.

The “Know Your Status” campaign has seen significant success; however, it does not address injection drug users in urban areas, including the City of Saskatoon, nor Indigenous communities in Northern Saskatchewan. To replicate the success of the “Know Your Status” program, the same level of funding should be allocated to every Indigenous community.

Communities like La Loche and La Ronge in Northern Saskatchewan are experiencing alarming HIV rates – and the loss of federal funding for organizations like AIDS Saskatoon and All Nations Hope have severely curtailed the outreach, education and prevention work that is so important in remote communities

Minister, we ask you to reverse the cuts to AIDS organizations, and to act immediately to properly address this pressing public health issue in Saskatchewan and save lives.

 

Sincerely,

Sheri Benson
Member of Parliament    
Saskatoon West    

                  

Georgina Joilibois     
Member of Parliament    
Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River     

                    

Ryan Meili
Leader of Saskatchewan’s NDP
MLA Saskatoon Meewasin