Formally communicating with government ministries, funders, health authorities and related allies is just one part of our work on policy change and collective action.
We consult with our members to discuss research findings, experiences, and priorities from across the province. With this information, we represent a collective voice for our members on issues that impact the health of people our member organizations serve. Contact our Executive Director, J. Evin Jones, for more information.
Entries are posted by most recent activity.
July: On December 1st, 2021, World AIDS Day, the Government of Canada proudly announced it would host the world at the 24th International AIDS Conference in Montréal, happening July 29 to August 2, 2022. We, the undersigned agencies, strongly urge the Government of Canada to announce an increase in federal funding for HIV (alone), commensurate with the 2019 Standing Committee on Health (HESA) Recommendation 20 to increase HIV funding to $100 million per year to address HIV/AIDS. Additional, separate funding support is also required to address hepatitis C and other STBBIs. Further, we urge the Government of Canada to re-invigorate its focus and political will to deliver an equitable, anti-racist action plan focused on HIV and AIDS that includes the necessary resources to ensure everyone has access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support by 2030.
July: In the spring, the BC legislature empowered the Select Standing Committee on Health to examine the urgent and ongoing illicit drug toxicity and overdose crisis. The Committee began holding in-person hearings in May and PAN was invited to present to the Committee on July 5th in Vancouver. At PAN, we know that our members are the experts in their communities, and their voices are key. J. Evin Jones, PAN’s Executive Director, was honoured to co-present with Charlene Burmeister, Executive Director of the Coalition of Substance Users in the North (CSUN). The work that CSUN does with drug users in Quesnel and surrounding area fully exemplifies the power of grassroots, peer led organizations who have consistently overcome a lack of funding and resources to save lives.
June: On June 6, the Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC) ⎯ with the support of PAN and other community organizations ⎯ sent a letter to Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos, requesting a meeting and calling for the immediate creation of emergency financial and housing supports and wrap-around services for people with confirmed or suspected monkeypox infection.
May: On July 29, Canada will open and host the AIDS 2022 conference – bringing the world together to accelerate the global fight to end HIV and AIDS. We would like to meet with you in advance of the conference to discuss the opportunity for Canada to showcase its work and present a clear path to ending new cases of HIV. We are confident that this can be achieved by 2025 with a clearly defined and focused action plan. This would involve a national leadership task force with a clear mandate, timeline and accountability to decision-makers and community stakeholders for the coordination, implementation and scale-up of strategic actions to achieve our end goals.
May: Please find our submission to your Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. With Bill C-5 being referred to your committee we wanted to show our support for the recent submissions from our colleagues at the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (CDPC), HIV Legal Network and the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation (CDPE) detailing evidence why a diversion model will not adequately address systemic racism and improve public safety, and providing recommendations for the committee to consider.
April: Letter to Gina Gardner Director, Strategic Policy, Child, Youth and Mental Health Policy Division, in BC’s Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. Excerpt: We are writing as a group of health, housing, and homelessness-serving associations whose members will be impacted by and implicated in the actualization of complex care housing in BC. Our organizations welcomed Minister Malcolmson’s announcement in February and the Province’s commitment of $164 million to support 500 people with complex needs in BC over the next three years. We look forward to partnering with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions (MMHA) in the implementation of these new initiatives and send this letter in anticipation of our upcoming meeting with the Ministry on April 19th to discuss the recently released Complex Care Housing: Draft Strategic Framework. The following provides a summary of key concerns and recommendations put forward by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, the Canadian Mental Health Association of BC, the Homelessness Services Association of BC, and PAN (formerly the Pacific AIDS Network). In our view, each of these recommendations are necessary for ensuring the success of this significant investment. Read complete letter.
April: On behalf of PAN, I write to thank and congratulate you on the creation of the historic $30 million Non-Profit Recovery and Resiliency Fund. Taken in combination with funding from the Vancouver Foundation, this will provide a significant boost to BC’s non-profit sector, which has been significantly impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic. At the same time, we would like to take the opportunity to highlight BC’s other concurrent health emergency, the overdose crisis, a crisis which has intensified and been made worse by COVID 19. We urge the province to dedicate some of the Recovery and Resiliency Fund to target community-based organizations (CBOs) including those staffed and led by people who use drugs and peers who are working on the front lines of the drug poisoning crisis. Read complete letter to Parliamentary Secretary Sharma
Excerpt from response: I want to commend PAN and its member organizations for your dedication to supporting some of our province’s most vulnerable citizens through quality relational care and harm reduction services. Your work improves British Columbians’ quality of life and saves lives. I appreciate you writing to raise your concerns about staffing issues, short-term health authority contracts, and the lack of core funding which are limiting PAN member organizations’ ability to support long-term and sustained responses to the overdose crisis. Further, I want to confirm that PAN member organizations who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are in need of funding to adapt and modernize may be able to access the new Recovery and Resiliency Fund. This could include capacity building opportunities, improving systems and digital infrastructure, and staff training and retention. Read complete letter of response from Parliamentary Secretary Sharma
March: I write to express support for Options for Sexual Health, specifically regarding their work in more than fifty communities across the province delivering an array of sexual and reproductive health services. As the Executive Director of PAN, I am concerned to learn that they are in now in the position of having to review what clinics may have to be closed, due to a lack of sustainable funding. As a provincial network, we here at PAN are aware of how important the services provided by Options are, particularly in small towns, rural and remote communities. Read complete letter.
March: The member organizations of PAN* write to urge you to grant the province of BC’s application for a section 56(1) exemption, to protect all BC residents from the application of section 4(1) of the CDSA. We also submit that the thresholds contained within the province’s application are the absolute minium of what should be included in the exemption and should not be reduced. Smaller thresholds would disadvantage people in rural or more remote areas, who may need to travel to stock up. Smaller threshold(s) would further disadvantage people based on their income / finances, where they live and the access they have to a safer supply. Read the complete letter.
February: PAN members have been bringing forward housing and homelessness related concerns. In response, in February 2022, PAN began working alongside BC Non Profit Housing Association, Homelessness Services Association of BC, Aboriginal Housing Management Association, and Canadian Mental Health Association, and formed a coalition to bring forward our shared concerns regarding complex care housing (CCH) in BC to the provincial government.
January: Thank you for your World AIDS Day message for December 1st, 2021. The response from Positive Living North No Kheyoh t’sih’en t’sehena Society, from many of our other members, and from people living with HIV who lead in our sector was heart-felt and positive. It meant a great deal to them to have their work recognized. Read the complete letter. | Read Dix’s World AIDS Day message.
January: PAN joins the voices of the Harm Reduction Nurses Association and other community groups in calling on the BC Minister of Health to expand access to heroin (diacetylmorphine) through specialized clinics. “Your policies continue to communicate clearly that people who use drugs are not worthy of evidence-based legal and regulated options of drugs (safe supply) that could stabilize and save their lives.” Read the call for action
Leading Human Rights and Public Health Organizations Release National Drug Decriminalization Platform for Canada
December: In the wake of almost 23,000 drug poisoning deaths since 2016, twenty-one civil society organizations across the country, including groups of people who use drugs, families affected by drug use, drug policy and human rights organizations, frontline service providers, and researchers, have collaborated to release Canada’s first civil society-led policy framework for drug decriminalization in Canada. Decriminalization Done Right: A Rights-Based Path for Drug Policy seeks to end the harmful and fatal criminalization of people who use drugs—which has fueled unprecedented overdose deaths—and protect the health and human rights of all people in Canada.
December: We welcome today’s statement from Health Minister Adrian Dix acknowledging World AIDS Day and Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week. We want to thank Minister Dix and Ministry of Health staff for inviting PAN to help inform some of the messaging for this year’s WAD statement, which reads in part: “This year, as we mark World AIDS Day and Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week, we acknowledge the efforts of AIDS service and other community-based organizations throughout the province, large and small, that have worked to connect people to testing, treatment, prevention and support.” Read complete statement
November: As World AIDS Day and Indigenous AIDS Awareness Day (December 1) fast approach, we are again reminded of the importance of strengthening our collective efforts in addressing HIV, along with HCV and other STBBIs.Minister, we are losing ground on both HIV and hepatitis C. This is borne out by increased HIV infection rates, growing outbreaks of syphilis and other STBBIs, and the large number of people in Canada who remain unaware of their HIV and/or HCV status. Read our call for action.
Feedback to PHAC regarding Letter of Intent (LOI) Process and Results of Community Action Fund (CAF) and Harm Reduction Fund (HRF) PHAC 2021 Funding Cycle
October: This feedback highlights PAN’s ongoing concerns about the sustainability of vital “on the ground” harm reduction, HIV and hepatitis C community-based programming. Shortly after the results of the LOI process were announced, PAN conducted an online survey with our members and allied organizations to see how they fared in the national CAF and HRF funding calls. Based on our survey results, we flagged that some geographic regions in BC will have no, or very little, funding come April 1st, 2022.
September: Since early 2020, PAN has been facilitating the work of a national group of HIV and hepatitis C community-based and human rights organizations that meet to ensure that Canada does not lose ground in meeting our national and international commitments in addressing STBBIs. In collaboration with these partners from across Canada, we have identified six key priority issues that are essential in ending the HIV and hepatitis C epidemics, and stopping the drug poisoning crisis in Canada. Read our calls for action in the 2021 federal election.
September: On August 23, 2021, BC’s Provincial Health Officer (PHO) Dr. Bonnie Henry announced an upcoming health order requiring proof of vaccination to access a range of discretionary events, services, and businesses throughout the province. Coming into effect on September 13, individuals wishing to access those services must prove they have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine; by October 24, individuals must be fully vaccinated. The requirement, though characterized as a “temporary measure” in the Order, is scheduled to be in place until January 31, 2022. The signatories to this letter demand that the province consider the full ramifications of a vaccine card, or any other proof of vaccination policy immediately. The implications of these orders extend far beyond public health, particularly for people already experiencing barriers to housing, services, and businesses: sweeping policies that restrict access, however well-intentioned, can have the effect of forcing people into isolation, cutting off their lines of resources, and making their lives even more dangerous during a pandemic. Read more
July: As the province continues to make tremendous strides in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the recent positive news that we have entered Phase 3 of our re-opening plan, now seems timely to write to you to express a growing concern across our membership, regarding the health and wellbeing for the many homeless people who have been temporarily housed in hotels. In this we are mindful as well of the backdrop of the heat crisis that recently gripped the entire province – which adds to our sense of urgency with our call to ensure that vulnerable people are safely housed. Our question is around the transition – the next steps – and wanting to ensure that no one gets left behind either by design, insufficient timelines and support, or lack of planning. Read more of our communication, including the response from government
Joint Letter to Provincial Government Regarding Unauthorized Police Enforcement of COVID-19 Travel Restrictions on May 1, 2021
May: We are writing to follow up on the rollout of enforcement Ministerial Order No. M182. As you are aware, on April 21, 11 community groups released an open letter to Premier Horgan, Minister Farnworth, and Minister Eby in response to the police enforcement set to accompany the Ministerial order. In this letter, signatories noted that they were “deeply concerned about the overbroad and unconstitutional expansion of police powers that will disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous and racialized communities.” Prior to the release of enforcement details, representatives of several organizations met with ADM Rideout for the purpose of a technical briefing on April 29. At that time, we were advised that enforcement re: non-essential travel would only take place at designated RCMP checkpoints.
We have since been made aware of a ticket issued by the RCMP on Vancouver Island on May 1, outside of an RCMP checkpoint. Read more
April: We are writing to you today on behalf of the BC Civil Liberties Association, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, BC First Nations Justice Council, British Columbia Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, Pivot Legal Society, Criminal Defence Advocacy Society, Coalition of Peers Dismantling the Drug War, Sanctuary Health, PACE Society, and the Pacific AIDS Network with serious concerns and questions about an upcoming provincial order on travel restrictions and accompanying police enforcement in BC, to be announced on April 23, 2021.
We absolutely believe there are urgent measures needed to be taken in order to curb the deadly spread of COVID-19 in our communities. However, we are deeply concerned about the overbroad and unconstitutional expansion of police powers that will disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous and racialized communities. Our key concern is with the proposed restrictions on a person’s ability to leave their health-care authority and accompanying police enforcement. Read more
April: Wednesday, April 14 will mark the 5th anniversary of the declaration of the BC Public Health Emergency of overdose and overdose deaths. This anniversary comes on the heels of BC’s deadliest year ever with 1,716 lives lost to Illicit drug overdoses in 2020. COVID-19 has had a terrible toxifying impact on the illicit drug market. Much work has been done by peers, by workers on the front lines, by human rights and other advocates, and by public health. Sadly, we are still so far from addressing this crisis. Read more
PAN Letter to Premier Horgan, and Government Response re: decriminalization of simple possession of drugs
April: As we near April 14, 2021 and the five-year anniversary of the Provincial Medical Health Officer declaring a public health emergency of overdose and overdose deaths, it is a solemn occasion. Over 7000 people have died since the declaration. Last year alone, 1716 people died–the highest number of overdose deaths, ever, in the province. Currently more than 5 people every day are dying. Clearly, despite the best efforts of drug users, peers, front line workers, and public health what we are doing is not enough. It is time to do more. It is time for bold leadership. We urgently call on you to implement the recommendations of Dr. Bonnie Henry contained within her 2019 Report Stopping the Harm. We also call on you to submit a formal application to the federal government for a section 56(1) exemption. On August 3, 2021, we received a letter in response from Sheila Malcolmson, the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. Read more
March: We are writing to you as 16 leading provincial, national or territorial networks and associations addressing HIV, hepatitis C and other STBBIs, to request a meeting to discuss future funding for our sector. Despite the impact of COVID-19, Canada must not lose ground, in addressing HIV, hepatitis C and other STBBIs. PHAC’s recently released report has confirmed that “Canada is closing the gap; however, progress is slow and there is still work to be done in order to meet the 90-90-90” (UNAIDS HIV targets). It is less clear how Canada is faring with its other international commitments, including the Sustainable Development Goals, and the World Health Organization’s viral hepatitis 2030 elimination target. Read more
January: From letter to BC CDC by PAN Executive Director J. Evin Jones: I write to express our concerns over the closure of the Bute St. Clinic, formerly co-located with QMUNITY. For decades the Bute St. Clinic provided essential, low barrier sexual health testing services. The clinic enjoyed an excellent reputation. It served residents not only of the West End and downtown Vancouver, but people from across the Lower Mainland and beyond in search of queer friendly and non-judgmental health care.
Such confidential, anonymous and queer positive testing services are still the preferred option for many. We are concerned both that the Clinic has been closed since March 2020 (due to COVID-19); and by the recent announcement that this will be a permanent closure. We urge the PHSA and BCCDC to fund and complete plans for a new home for the Bute St. Clinic as soon as possible. Read more.