Government and Stakeholder Communications

 

Formally communicating with government ministries, funders, health authorities and related allies and stakeholders 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. 

 

2022

PAN submission to House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights

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.

 

PAN Letter to Parliamentary Secretary Niki Sharma

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.

 

Letter to Minister Dix re: Options for Sexual Health

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.

 

Letter to Minister Bennet re: BC Application for a s 56(1) Exemption

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. 

 

Letter to BC Minister of Health, Adrian Dix re: World AIDS Day message, 2021

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.

 


We need immediate and expanded access to diacetylmorphine for people who use opioids

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

2021

Leading Human Rights and Public Health Organizations Release National Drug Decriminalization Platform for Canada

Toronto, ON — 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.

 


Joint Letter to Minister Duclos – World AIDS Day and Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week 2021

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.

 


Federal Election 2021

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.

 


Joint Response to BC’s “Proof of Vaccination” Health Order

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

 


PAN Calls on Minister Eby to Clarify Next Steps for ‘Social Distancing’ COVID-19 Housing

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

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


Joint letter to Province regarding proposed travel restrictions and police enforcement

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


BC’s 5th anniversary of the Overdose Emergency: Time for Bold Action and Political courage

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

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

 


Letter to Mr. Iain Stewart, President, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)

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

 


PAN Letter to BC CDC Regarding Closure of Bute Street Clinic

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.

 

2020

Letter to Honourable Adrian Dix regarding World AIDS 2020 Message

Minister, as we did last year, we write on behalf of the members of the Pacific AIDS Network to respond to your 2020 World AIDS Day message. Community Based Organizations (CBOs) work with some of the most vulnerable members of our society and provide services that are flexible, timely, and highly cost-effective in communities across the province. In many instances, they are the vital link for people living with HIV (PLHIV) in maintaining their connections with healthcare and treatment adherence, not to mention their work in preventing HIV transmission through harm reduction programming, education and support of priority populations. Given all of this, we were puzzled and disappointed to read, for the second year in a row, that your World AIDS Day message failed to acknowledge the critical contributions of PAN members and the community-based sector. Read more.


Joint Letter to Minister Hajdu, Federal Minister of Health

“We write during challenging times, and we acknowledge COVID-19 and its impact on PHAC and the Ministry of Health – but we cannot lose sight, or ground, in addressing HIV, hepatitis C and other STBBIs. In advance of World AIDS Day 2020, it is important to acknowledge the progress made. We have made good gains with respect to our international commitments, but much work remains to be done. This will take a concerted effort and a reaffirmation at the federal level is essential, including sufficient funding for our response.

We are concerned that the current level of federal resourcing for addressing HIV, hepatitis C and other STBBIs is insufficient.” Read more.


CBRC Responds to the Exclusion of Two-Spirit People from BC’s In Plain Sight Report

CBRC sent a letter to the BC Minister of Health, and others, requesting a meeting to discuss the general exclusion and misrepresentation of the Two-Spirit community in the In Plain Sight investigation into Indigenous-specific racism in BC’s health care system. PAN was a signatory on this letter, along with other community partners. While the report included important recommendations to create safer, more accessible, and more culturally competent health care for all, it failed to acknowledge the unique experiences among Two-Spirit and Indigenous queer and trans folks, who face additional barriers and prejudice due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Learn more

 


Advocating for Safer Supply and Decriminalization with the Provincial Government

PAN has sent a letter to Minister Dix (Minister of Health) and Minister Farnworth (Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General) that detailed our collective concerns regarding the roll-out of safer supply during the COVID-19 emergency – including a lack of a sufficient number of prescribers, a lack of pharmacists, overly conservative interpretation of the guidance and a lack of safe supply, information and supports for people who use stimulants and other substances.

 


Letter to Canadian Government: decriminalize simple possession immediately

PAN signed onto this letter from the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Pivot Legal Society and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition – they joined forces to call on the Minister of Health and other key ministers in the federal government to immediately decriminalize the possession of illicit drugs in response to the twin crises of opioid overdoses and the COVID-19 pandemic.


Letter to Premier Horgan, Dr. Bonnie Henry, et al regarding dual public health emergencies

The BC and Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors sent a letter to the provincial government ensure the “equitable application of public health protections to vulnerable British Columbians” during the dual public health emergencies of drug overdose deaths (declared April 14, 2016) and COVID-19 (declared March 17, 2020). PAN, along with many community groups and individuals, signed in support of the open letter to Honourable John Horgan, Premier; Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer;  Honourable Adrian Dix, Minister of Health; Honourable Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, among others.


Letter to Minister Morneau regarding pharmacare

PAN’s voice joined over 150 national and provincial organizations co-signing a letter to Minister Morneau asking for the necessary commitments for pharmacare in this year’s federal budget.
“The majority of Canadians voted for pharmacare in the 2019 election. We are counting on
your government to fulfill its promise to Canadians.”


Letter to Minister Dix regarding World AIDS Day Announcement

“We write in the wake of your December 1st, 2019 World AIDS Day Announcement. There is much to celebrate about the record low cases of HIV and AIDS in BC. We applaud your government’s decision to expand public funding for pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis medication. We applaud the continued resourcing of the treatment as prevention approach, and the critical work of Dr. Julio Montaner and his colleagues at the BC Centre for Excellence. We are mindful, however, that these are shared successes, attributable to the work and efforts of countless individuals and numerous agencies and organizations across the province – many on the front lines of our communities. Staff and volunteers of community-based organizations – many of them people living with HIV – have made key contributions across the continuum of care, supporting efforts to test and treat and link people to care.

We want to underscore the importance of not losing momentum. We are concerned about the current lack of a comprehensive provincial strategy vis-à-vis HIV and AIDS in this province.”