Help Support Supervised Consumption Sites: On-the-ground advocates needed in Ottawa

We recently blogged about our support and enthusiasm for setting up supervised consumption sites in Toronto and Ottawa-supervised consumption sites save lives, and promote the health and human rights of people who use drugs.  We asked you to “stay tuned”.  We’re baaaaack.

Do you live in Ottawa?  Will you be there in two weeks time?  The good people at the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa are taking their message to the streets of the ByWard Market to gather signatures for there petition in support of supervised sites. Friday 28 September to Sunday 30 September. They are looking for volunteers.

Use this link to sign up to volunteer.

Even if you can’t help out that weekend, you can stay informed about the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa on their website, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.



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Sick of the criminalization of HIV? Email Ontario’s AG and tell him

Deja-vu, all over again.  We are again asking you to email John Gerretsen, Ontario’s Attorney General.  He has gone back on the Ministry’s commitment to develop guidelines to reign in Crown Prosecutors.  And we are now seeing PHAs criminally charged for mutual masturbation. For mutual masturbation.

Gerretsen has let the community know that he is not going to budge.  He is going to “wait and see” what the Supreme Court says when it releases two decisions in the coming months.   All the while, police and Crown Prosecutors are taking the legal position that any HIV non-disclosure is a sexual assault.  Never mind the risk of HIV transmission.  Never mind that the Supreme Court decided in 1998 that the Crown Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the non-disclosure and sex carried a significant risk HIV transmission.

PHAs are in jail awaiting trial.   Others are being criminal charges.  Many are living in fear and anger. And the police, Crown Prosecutors, and Minister Gerretsen? Business “as usual.”  Gerretsen has ignored repeated requests for a meeting. So please … join AAN! and the Ontario Working Group on Criminal Law and HIV Exposure in protest and action.

The Ontario Working Group is asking people to email Minister Gerresten. And they have made it easy for you to do so .., click on the link in the message just below, from the Co-chairs of the Working group.



12 September 2012

On behalf of the Ontario Working Group on Criminal Law and HIV Exposure (CLHE), we ask you (individuals and organizations) to tell John Gerretsen, Ontario’s Attorney General, to stop illegal and unjust criminal prosecutions against people living with HIV in Ontario, and to re-open the dialogue with the community.

We are asking you to send Ontario’s Attorney General an email requesting that he immediately:

1) instruct Crown prosecutors to stop prosecuting people living with HIV where there is no “significant risk” of HIV transmission;

2) put all prosecutions “on hold” until the Supreme Court releases its decision in two upcoming cases (expected in the fall); and

3) meet with community-based CLHE to discuss when and how he will fulfill the previous Attorney General’s promise to put in place guidelines for Crown prosecutors working on HIV non-disclosure cases.

You can send Mr. Gerretsen an email by completing the on-line form, at  Please take 5 minutes today to support fairness and justice for people living with HIV.

For more information about the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, and the Campaign for Prosecutorial Guidelines, visit:

Thank you,

Ryan Peck, co-chair, Ontario Working Group on Criminal Law and HIV Exposure

Anne Marie DiCenso, co-chair, Ontario Working Group on Criminal Law and HIV Exposure

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AAN! Supports Supervised Consumption Sites for Ottawa & Toronto. So should you …

If you have not already done so, please consider signing the petition calling for Supervised Consumption Sites for Ottawa.  The petition is part of the work being carried out by the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa.

A ground-breaking report, released earlier this year after, called for multiple Supervised Consumptions Sites to be established in both Ottawa and Toronto.

The TOSCA (Toronto and Ottawa Supervised Consumption Assessment) research team looked at two questions:  (1) Do Toronto and Ottawa need supervised consumption facilities? (2) Is the implementation of supervised consumption facilities in Toronto or Ottawa feasible? To answer these questions, the research team conducted a scientific study involving the collection and analysis of data from a variety of sources.  The assessment answered both questions with a resounding “YES”, backed up with five recommendations that set out a framework to make Supervised Consumption Sites a reality.  The report is worth reading in full … in the mean time, here is a press release and a supportive Toronto Star editorial that hit the main points.

But let’s not kid ourselves, securing the rights and health of people on society’s margins has never been easy.  Making Supervised Consumption Sites a reality in Ottawa and Toronto will take ACTION.  Ontario’s Minister of Health is on record opposing them: “We are always prepared to listen to good advice, and we make our decisions based on evidence,” Health Minister Deb Mathews said in a written statement at the time TOSCA was released. “Experts continue to be divided on the value of the sites. We have no plans to pursue supervised sites at this time.” Ottawa is not rushing to implement the recommendations.  And even in the potentially friendlier, more enlightened climate prevailing at the City of Toronto‘s Drug Strategy Implementation Task Force, public expression of support and political action will be crucial.

AAN! fully supports the need for Supervised Consumptions Sites in Ottawa, Toronto, and wherever there is need for this life-saving public health measure. We think you should too.  Please sign the petition.  Your voice and your support are needed now, and for the foreseeable future.  Show your support for justice and evidence-based policy making, for empathy and community, and for action to promote the rights, dignity, health and well-being of people who use drugs.

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Prisoners’ Justice Day 2012

August 10th, 2012 marked the 37th anniversary of Prisoners Justice Day across Canada. To show support for prisoners, the annual solidarity gathering and vigil was held in front of Toronto’s Don Jail. Activists and community members rallied to show support for those who are currently incarcerated and called for alternatives to incarceration - at a time when governments are enacting repressive U.S. style get-tough-on-crime laws to build more prisons despite a falling crime rate.

A representative of AIDS ACTION NOW! spoke at the event along with representatives from Maggie’s, the Toronto Harm Reduction Coalition, Prisoners AIDS Support Action Network (PASAN), and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). A Prisoners’ Justice Day statement was also read from the G20 accused and other inmates within the Central North Correctional Complex in Penetanguishene, Ontario, and the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton, Ontario.

Below is a transcript of Alex McClelland’s statement on behalf of AIDS ACTION NOW!

I’m here to send love, solidarity and respect to people who are currently or formerly incarcerated across Canada for Prisoners Justice Day!

In Canada, there are 70,000 of us living with HIV and AIDS, and between 250 to 300,000 people living with Hepatitis C. These numbers are growing at a steady rate. Both HIV and Hep C impacts folks in prison disproportionately. Depending on which facility and in which jurisdiction you are in, Hep C rates in prison can be up to 45 times greater than the general population, and HIV rates are around 22 times greater.

The Federal Government’s crusade to destroy human rights and promote policy based on moralistic and stigmatizing attitudes, rather than with evidence, science and dignity is actively driving these epidemics in prisons and in the general population.

People who are currently incarcerated are actively denied their human right to health, by the Federal Government and Corrections Services Canada. Both of whom will not fund or allow syringe distribution and make condoms and other prevention measures hard to come by inside prison institutions. Despite the massive amounts of scientific evidence demonstrating the successes of such interventions in prisons at preventing HIV and Hep C transmission. The Federal Conservative government’s opposition to harm reduction and HIV prevention measures is an anti-human rights, anti-science, anti-academic, moral crusade against the most vulnerable members of society. This directly puts the lives our allies in prisons at risk on a daily basis.

But, despite this institutional and systemic violence and oppression, we know that our allies inside are doing what they can to protect and educate themselves.

And to our brothers and sisters who know their HIV-positive status inside Canada’s prisons. We are with you and sending you much love, support and respect today and everyday. We know you are working to take care of yourselves and each other, despite the widespread institutionalized AIDS-phobia, homophobia, racism, trans-phobia and intense HIV-related stigma, and violence that you face on a daily basis. Not to mention
other forms of rights violations you face such as HIV treatment interruptions that threaten your health, and the regular breaches of your confidentiality - all that take place due to poorly trained staff in your institutions, and the
lack of political leadership to ensure your rights are realized.

Today, we also want to send love out to the over 100 people across Canada who have faced charges and imprisonment due to the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure. These are charges that are based in stigma, fear and AIDS-phobia, not on science, or medical
evidence. Canada holds the shameful title of one of the world’s leaders in criminalizing HIV.  As Richard Elliot of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network has said, “the epidemic of over-criminalization is a growing menace to public health and human rights here in Canada — threatening not only those members of our communities who live with HIV, but ultimately putting all Canadians at greater risk and undermining our collective efforts end AIDS”.

To everyone inside due to these shameful charges not grounded in scientific fact, justice or human rights, we hope you know that you have our support and that there is a global movement of dedicated experts working tirelessly to end the criminalization of HIV.

Finally, we want to send a message of solidarity and love to all people who use drugs inside and outside of prisons. Canada is a country with a large drug consumption population. We know that drugs are widely available and used regularly within prison institutions across the country as well as outside in the general public. We must stop the moralistic and criminalizing approach to drug use in this country. The Federal Government is a leader in driving the global war on people who use drugs.  Despite international calls from experts around the world to decriminalize drugs and view drug use as a health issue, not a issue to be criminalized. But today a massive percentage of people inside prison walls continue to be there due to drug-related offenses.

We know that there is a clear correlation between laws that criminalize drugs and high rates of HIV among people who inject drugs. Harper’s disgusting and shameful measures through the Omnibus Crime Bill will make the HIV and Hep C epidemics worse, and our streets and lives will be less safe. The scale-up of the war on people who use drugs in Canada is actively aimed at threatening our survival and the survival of people inside.

We live under a political regime that is anti-democratic, fascist and that is actively implementing bad polices intended to threaten our survival. We have to stand up against this denial of our basic human rights to health and security.

Thanks for listening to me today. Again much love, respect and solidarity to everyone inside.


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The Canadian Minister of Health Action Video

Thanks Drug Reporter and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union for the great coverage!

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