OTTAWA – The Conservative government’s decision to cut community AIDS funding is simple negligence, say NDP Health Critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North) and NDP MP Libby Davies (Vancouver East).
“The Conservatives are recklessly diverting money from important community AIDS prevention programs to let themselves off the hook for commitments they made to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation,” said Wasylycia-Leis.
Media reports today confirmed that Ontario AIDS groups will see a 30 per cent funding cut, with more cuts to come for community groups across Canada. Money earmarked for these groups is being moved to satisfy a February 2007 commitment to the Gates Foundation that agreed to put $139 million in new funding toward a Canadian HIV vaccine program.
“Community AIDS groups across the country are struggling to deliver programs to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. Now this government is breaking its promise for new funding for an important AIDS vaccine and threatening the future of local AIDS groups,” said Davies.
“This government continues to ignore evidence-based results when it comes to public health issues,” said Davies. “It has removed harm reduction from its drug strategy, and is pouring more and more resources into enforcement while virtually abandoning treatment and prevention programs.”
“What Canadian AIDS groups need now is additional, stable funding. The minister of Health must know that these cuts will directly result in the loss of lives,” said Wasylycia-Leis.
The NDP is calling for the minister of Health to honour his commitment for new funding for a Canadian HIV vaccine program and ensure that there will be no cuts to existing HIV/AIDS programs.