Public Health denies project funds to historically-funded HIV organizations
Several HIV/AIDS networks whose projects were funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada have had their new applications rejected.
By Jackie Hong Staff Reporter
Oct. 10, 2016 - In a bid for new ways to address HIV/AIDS across the country, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has denied or cut back project funding requests of several HIV/AIDS organizations historically supported by the federal government, leaving some worrying where they’ll find financial resources to keep operating.
Among those facing cuts is the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN), which chief executive officer Ken Clement said had its $750,000 proposal cut down to $250,000 — a two-thirds reduction.
“We may have to close our doors. That is, I think, one of the realities right now,” Clement said on the phone from CAAN headquarters in Vancouver. “We've been given notice of a 70 per cent cut, so we don't know what we'll be able to do.”
CAAN is a not-for-profit coalition representing 26 member and associate member organizations that provides “leadership, support and advocacy” specifically tailored for indigenous Canadians with HIV/AIDS.
“I think there's absolutely panic and there's also anger, and there's also shock,” Clement said. “It's, in our view, against the principles of what (Minister of Health Jane Philpott's) been promoting and advocating in terms of supporting indigenous HIV across Canada.”
CAAN and several of its member organizations have sent letters to the prime minister and Philpott.
The Canadian AIDS Society , which represents 85 community-based organizations, also had the amount proposed in its LOI heavily reduced, executive director Gary Lacasse told the Star. He declined to comment further, saying CAS was consulting with its members.
According to PHAC spokesperson Eric Morrissette, the federal health agency received 224 project submissions following an open call for Letters of Intent (LOI), the first step for organizations seeking funding from PHAC's $26.4 million HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund.
One hundred twenty-four organizations were invited to submit full project proposals, but another 42 are “not recommended for further consideration … some of whom have been funded by PHAC for more than 10 years,” Morrissette wrote in an email.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Gregory Taylor said PHAC is looking at new ways to approach HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C and, based on consultations that started two years ago, identified new approaches for projects to focus on.
“It does not mean that the organizations we've worked with in the past are doing bad work. It means our priorities have changed,” Taylor said Thursday, acknowledging that “some of the organizations aren't real happy.”
The new priorities include a focus on indigenous populations — 24 indigenous organizations had their projects green-lit, up from 15 from the previous funding cycle — and geographic areas where blood-borne diseases are more prevalent.
The Canadian Treatment Action Council (CTAC), which focuses on access to treatment for people living with HIV as well as Hepatitis C, had its LOI rejected, confirmed spokesperson Terry Santoni.
CTAC has “some concerns in terms of the funding” but “will continue to do what we're doing and to push forward our good work,” Santoni said.
The organization is riding out the last six months of a three-year grant from a previous funding cycle and, in the meantime, will be “trying to diversify our funding stream and looking for opportunities to form new relationships and alliances.”
“We're quite hopefully that there are a lot of other opportunities and without having those constraints that we were subject to under the contribution agreements that we had,” Santoni added. “We might be able to advocate even further and stronger for the populations that we serve.”
PHAC will be reaching out to all organizations whose LOI's were rejected and “work with them to see if there's any that this maybe do an undue hardship,” Taylor said, explaining that $600,000 from the fund had been set aside and is “intended to fill any potential gaps.” This money could be used to assist networks or organizations who would have difficulty once their current funding ends on April 1, 2017, and PHAC is also looking into whether organizations could work with others who had their projects approved.
Taylor said he doesn't anticipate a gap in services to appear come the new fiscal year, when the old funding runs out and the new one kicks in.
“These new organizations . . . It isn't core funding, they're already in the business, this is project funding for them. They've been notified now and they'll have six months to ramp up,” he said. “So our hope is that there will be minimal disturbances in terms of the services to the populations.”
Source: Toronto Star
"Reproduced with permission - Torstar Syndication Services"
For more HIV and AIDS News visit...
Positively Positive - Living with HIV/AIDS: