Friday, November 23, 2007

Harper government slowly bleeding AIDS groups dry

This is disturbing, but again unsurprising. Who says Stephen Harper needs a majority to re-make this country in his own neo-con image?

As of early November, the Conservative government hadn't decided which groups across the country serving people with AIDS would get federal cash in 2008 and 2009, according to documents obtained by Capital Xtra.

Public Health Agency of Canada faxed a letter to organizations who run AIDS programming on Nov 9 saying that the AIDS Community Action Program would see a short-term extension until March 2009. It also suggests cash will only be available to groups already receiving money. And it comes with a warning.

"All Grants and Contribution programs are currently being reviewed to ensure that they are closely aligned with the Agency's priorities, current research and evidence," says the letter.

Without a majority, this is how the Tories prefer to put their socially conservative stamp on the country: by stealth. They pulled similar moves last year when they removed the word "equality" from the Status of Women mandate and shut down the Court Challenges Program, among other changes.

Just think about what legislative changes the Harper government would embrace if it had a majority...

1 comment:

Adam said...

So, first of all the article doesn't state how much funding AIDS related groups get in the first place. If they are given say 100 million dollars, then the drop is only 1%, and it isn't really that big of a deal. Do you know how much they get?

I would be particularly interested to know how much funding in light of the fact that AIDS is a disease that is highly publicized, yet only a very small minority of people get it. The latest numbers that I am able to find are about state "The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that by the end of 2005, there were about 58,000 people living with HIV-AIDS." (from cbc.ca) Also in 2005 about 2500 cases of HIV were confirmed in Canada.

When you contrast these numbers with say, prostate cancer: "In 2007, an estimated 22,300 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 4,300 will die of it." (from the Canadian Cancer Society), and I suspect that there is a lot more money going into HIV/AIDS related groups than there is prostate cancer related groups. It would be difficult to quantify that sort of information though.

HIV/AIDS seems to be affecting a select sector of the population (~80% of HIV cases in Canada are related to MSM and/or IV drug use). Whereas a disease like prostate cancer doesn't really discriminate (well, only against women).

I am not saying that HIV/AIDS groups shouldn't be funded, just that they probably get their fair share, and I suspect that a $1 million hit won't hurt them too much.