Cruel timing in a province that has the most serious HIV/AIDS rates in Canada.
With cruel timing, the cuts took effect on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day. They include AIDS Vancouver, one of the most crucial centres in the country. Even worse, more cuts are planned on April 1, 2010.
The Health Sciences Association of B.C. (HSABC/NUPGE) represents workers at three HIV/AIDS advocacy and service organizations in the province: AIDS Vancouver, Positive Women’s Network and the Living Positive Resource Centre in the Okanagan.
HSABC president Reid Johnson calls the cuts unconscionable and says services must be restored.
“On World AIDS Day, instead of recognizing the need for maintaining and developing services for the increasing number of British Columbians living with HIV and AIDS, the ministry of health [mandated] another set of short-sighted cuts,” he says.
“Our members are the case managers and program coordinators working to support these people, working to ensure that their devastating diagnosis doesn’t translate into a death sentence,” he adds. “You can’t make a so-called ‘administrative’ cut without having a detrimental impact on program delivery.”
Johnson says the Vancouver cuts especially make no sense, since B.C. has disproportionately high rates of AIDS compared to the rest of Canada. In some areas of Vancouver, the incidence is on a level with sub-Sahara Africa, he adds.
“We know from B.C.’s Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS that the estimated lifetime cost to B.C.’s health system of one new infection is $250,000. If a prevention educator keeps 50 people a year from being infected, how many times over is she paying for herself?” Johnson asks.
HSABC is among a group of organizations that have begun a campaign to lobby for restoration of funding and to express concerns directly to members of the government in Victoria. Please visit the website below to join the campaign.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE