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.
November: Some 32 organizations Canada-wide have signed on to a statement outlining a human rights-based approach to HIV self-testing. In the spirit of International Testing Week (November , we would like to make that number much higher, and plan on directing the letter to Government of Canada officials and bureaucrats.
June: This call for action was developed in a collaboration of the HIV Legal Network, CAAN Communities, Alliances and Networks, HIV and AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO), PAN, and Women’s Health in Women’s Hands (WHIWH). We encourages others to join us in supporting it. This statement is now online for organizational endorsement in Canada and, among other things, it focuses on the need to provide information about anonymous confirmatory testing and the need to provide information about the risks of HIV criminalization. It should be seen as complementary to the efforts ongoing to promote self-testing.
February: On February 23rd, PAN sent a letter to the Honourable Adrian Dix, Minister of Health outlining a call to immediately expand access to Diacetylmorphine (DAM) / Heroin Assisted Treatment (HAT) and other flexible prescribed safer supply (PSS) initiatives for people who use opioids. The letter was developed in consultation with the Coalition of Substance Users of the North (CSUN) and other PAN members on the frontline of the drug poisoning crisis, key experts, and people with lived and living experience. Despite the evidence showing improved health outcomes of HAT, and that it can save lives, today it is available to only a few hundred people in BC. We urgently call on the Minister to expand the Safe Supply program to include access to inhalable and injectable DAM throughout the province. We received a response on April 20.
January: Your mandate letter asks that you prioritize taking into account the unanimous recommendations of the Select Standing Committee on Health. With almost 7 British Columbians dying every day from drug poisoning there is an urgent need to remove all barriers to an effective response, including the critical services being provided by CBOs and peer run organizations. Many of our member [organizations] struggle with sustainability on a number of levels. The vast majority of the funding provided by the province to address the drug poisoning crisis has been retained for services within health authorities. Community level organizations in the health sector do not receive core funding and instead are treated like a business under a procurement model. Contracts are often short-term in duration and/or subject to regular re-procurement, which limits the ability to support long-term and sustained responses. This does not build on the strengths of CBOs to be flexible and responsive to the needs of people who use substances. More
January: Thank you for following through on the commitment made at the July 2022 International AIDS Conference to undertake a public consultation on reforming the criminal law regarding HIV non-disclosure. Concerns regarding the ongoing criminalization of PLHIV run high and persist despite BC having some of the most progressive prosecutorial guidelines in the country. While there has been a reduction in prosecutions in recent years, the reality remains that PLHIV can be charged and convicted for HIV non-disclosure in cases in which their sexual activities pose a negligible risk of HIV transmission or no risk at all. PAN strongly urges the federal government to amend the Criminal Code and enact other associated reforms. More
December: Your mandate letter acknowledges that the challenges confronting both rural and urban communities are urgent and complex – and to our way of thinking, none is more urgent or complex than the province-wide drug poisoning crisis. It is now the leading cause of unnatural death for all of BC, and second only to cancers in terms of years of life lost. Since the province first declared a public health emergency in April 2016, more than 10,000 people have died – and these deaths were preventable.
November: December 1st will mark the 35th World AIDS Day and the start of Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week. PAN and our member organizations will stand with people living with HIV across the world to mark this milestone and remember those we have lost. Here in BC, it is a time to highlight the progress we have made, while reaffirming our shared commitment to address remaining challenges including an ever-worsening drug poisoning crisis. Challenges persist, particularly with regards to health equity. Indigenous people continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, hepatitis C and the harms from our poisoned drug supply, with systemic racism and discrimination across our health care and other systems impacting people’s access to care and support. Learn more
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