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Our Work

Our Work

Our most recent posts are listed below. To learn more about a specific issue, select a topic under “Our Work” in the menu to the left.

For our publications on past topics, click on “Find Publications” and search by topic.


April 2021 March 2021 February 2021 January 2021 December 2020 November 2020 October 2020 September 2020 August 2020 July 2020 June 2020 May 2020

April 2021

Joint Submission on Bill 251, Combating Human Trafficking Act, 2021

In March 2020, the Ontario government announced a $307 million investment into a five-year anti-trafficking strategy. On February 22, 2021, Bill 251, Combating Human Trafficking Act, 2021 was introduced by Solicitor General Sylvia Jones in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The stated purpose of the Act is to combat human trafficking and provide support for […]

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Submission to the 64th Commission on Narcotic Drugs

Promoting equity and evidence in drug policy in the midst and wake of COVID-19 This brief is submitted by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (Special Consultative Status) on behalf of the Canadian Civil Society Working Group on United Nations Drug Policy. It should be considered alongside the submission by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use […]

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Side Event at 64th Commission on Narcotic Drugs

“We Are the Evidence” Community-Led Responses on Decriminalisation, Harm Reduction and COVID-19 Join us for a timely discussion on why and how people who use drugs should be at the centre of advancing policy towards decriminalisation of drugs, drawing from examples of peer leadership on harm reduction and the COVID-19 response. This side event will […]

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March 2021

SEX WORKER HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS LAUNCH CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE

SEX WORKER HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS LAUNCH CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE  PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   March 30, 2021 –  The Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform — an alliance of 25 sex worker rights groups across the country led predominantly by and for sex workers — along with several individual applicants, have filed a […]

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Letter to Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart re CDSA exemption

The HIV Legal Network, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, and Pivot Legal Society have written to Kennedy Stewart, mayor of Vancouver, urging him to develop a “Vancouver Model” for decriminalization that is appropriately broad and responds to the aspirations and needs of people who use drugs. This letter follows up on the submission sent in […]

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Letter: Canada must support global access to COVID-19 vaccines at the WTO

The HIV Legal Network is a proud signatory of this open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging him to support global access to COVID-19 vaccines. March 10, 2021  SENT VIA EMAIL  The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.   Prime Minister of Canada    Re: Canada must support global access to COVID-19 vaccines at the WTO    Dear Prime […]

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MEDIA RELEASE: International Conference on cannabis in Kyrgyz Republic

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CANNABIS IN KYRGYZ REPUBLIC FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Will Kyrgyz Republic win the war on poverty through the use of industrial hemp, medical and recreational cannabis? Professor Nazaraliev will discuss this topic with the world’s top experts. The first international conference on the legalization of cannabis and its derivatives in Kyrgyz Republic will […]

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Submission to the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

The expected escalation of the Russian government’s crackdown of civil society poses a fundamental challenge. The new amendments to the so-called Foreign Agents Law (FA Law) have created new threats and vulnerabilities for civil society organisations (CSOs) as well as active citizens. Since its introduction in 2012, this law has targeted independent Russian CSOs, including […]

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HUMAN RIGHTS AND SUPPORT IN HEALTH CARE: IMPROVING OUTCOMES ALONG THE HIV CASCADE FOR PEOPLE WHO INJECT DRUGS

From April 2017 to May 2020, with the support of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, a pilot project of social and legal support for people who inject drugs was carried out in St. Petersburg in order to improve health outcomes, specifically along the HIV testing, treatment, and care cascade (hereinafter referred to as the “HIV cascade”). The […]

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Statement on suspension of injectable opioid agonist treatment (iOAT) in Alberta

Statement on suspension of injectable opioid agonist treatment (iOAT) in Alberta Personal health and safety at risk due to court ruling Edmonton, AB—Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, Friends of Medicare, Moms Stop the Harm, and HIV Legal Network are deeply concerned about the health and safety impacts to vulnerable […]

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February 2021

OPEN LETTER: Urgent appeal to increase access to GeneXpert SARS-CoV-2 tests in LMICs

The HIV Legal Network has signed this open letter to the president and CEO of Cepheid, urging the company to increase access to GeneXpert SARS-COV-2 tests in low- and middle-income countries.   Mr. Warren C. Kocmond President and Chief Operating Officer Cepheid 904 Caribbean Drive Sunnyvale, CA 94089 United States CC: Mr. Philippe Jacon, President, […]

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Letter to Minister Garneau and Minister Schulte

The HIV Legal Network sent the following letter to the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors, urging them to protect the rights of older persons.   February 24, 2021 By electronic mail The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs The Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of […]

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Funding the Fight: Supporting and Sustaining the Federal Response to HIV and AIDS in Canada

Funding the Fight: Supporting and Sustaining the Federal Response to HIV and AIDS in Canada Pre-budget Consultations 2021 Submission by the HIV Legal Network February 19, 2021 The current COVID-19 pandemic illustrates starkly, yet again, the critical importance of both investing in public health and of respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights in order to […]

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STATEMENT: BILL C-22 INTRODUCES WELCOME DRUG POLICY AMENDMENTS BUT FALLS SHORT, ADVOCATES SAY

STATEMENT: BILL C-22 INTRODUCES WELCOME DRUG POLICY AMENDMENTS BUT FALLS SHORT, ADVOCATES SAY The following can be attributed to Richard Elliott, Executive Director, HIV Legal Network. February 18, 2021 – Ottawa – Today, the HIV Legal Network welcomes some of the amendments in Bill C-22, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled […]

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BREAKING: AIDS-Free World and HIV Legal Network Release Delayed IACHR Report

BREAKING: AIDS-Free World and HIV Legal Network Release Delayed IACHR Report Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Censures Jamaica for Violating the Rights of LGBTI Citizens, Recommends Repeal of Homophobic Law Criminalizing Consensual Sex   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   February 17, 2021—In response to the first-ever petition filed in this matter, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights […]

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Letter to Minister Hajdu: Vancouver and British Columbia exemptions to decriminalize simple drug possession

The following letter was sent to Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu on behalf of the HIV Legal Network, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, and Pivot Legal Society.   DELIVERED BY EMAIL February 10, 2021 The Hon. Patty Hajdu Minister of Health   Dear Minister: Re: Vancouver and British Columbia exemptions to decriminalize simple drug possession […]

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January 2021

STATEMENT: CIVIL SOCIETY APPLAUDS CITY OF MONTRÉAL DECRIMINALIZATION MOTION

STATEMENT: CIVIL SOCIETY APPLAUDS CITY OF MONTRÉAL DECRIMINALIZATION MOTION The following can be attributed to Richard Elliott, Executive Director, HIV Legal Network.  January 26, 2021 – Montréal – The Montréal city council today passed a motion to call on the Government of Canada to decriminalize possession of drugs for personal use. We at the HIV Legal […]

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December 2020

Submission to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights by the HIV Legal Network and the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation

A joint submission to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights by the HIV Legal Network and the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, focusing on human rights violations against people in Canada of African descent, in the context of Canada’s drug laws and policies. “For the period 2014 to 2019, police in […]

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STATEMENT: SENATE MOTION CALLING ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO INCREASE HIV FUNDING WELCOMED BY CIVIL SOCIETY

STATEMENT: SENATE MOTION CALLING ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO INCREASE HIV FUNDING WELCOMED BY CIVIL SOCIETY The following can be attributed to Richard Elliott, Executive Director, HIV Legal Network.   December 1, 2020 – Ottawa – For far too long, year-over-year, the HIV response in Canada has been stalled, with funding flat-lined. More than $123 million […]

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November 2020

NEWS RELEASE: CANADA AND THE HIV RESPONSE: TOP ISSUES FOR WORLD AIDS DAY 2020

  CANADA AND THE HIV RESPONSE: TOP ISSUES FOR WORLD AIDS DAY 2020 Human rights, federal funding, opioid overdose crisis top priorities this year   November 27, 2020 — Tuesday, December 1st, is World AIDS Day. Given our current context, the dangers of underfunding the response to public health crises are all too evident. Every […]

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Submission to the City of Vancouver: Mayor Stewart’s motion to decriminalize personal possession of controlled substances in Vancouver

The HIV Legal Network wishes to express our support for Mayor Stewart’s motion to direct “the City of Vancouver to write to the federal Ministers of Health, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and Justice and Attorney General to  request a federal exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to decriminalize personal possession of illicit […]

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STATEMENT: Legal and civil society groups commend City of Vancouver’s leadership on drug decriminalization

Legal and civil society groups commend City of Vancouver’s leadership on drug decriminalization As the opioid overdose crisis devastates communities across Canada, groups hope that other jurisdictions will follow suit   November 18, 2020 Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories – Today, the Mayor of Vancouver, supported by Vancouver Coastal Health, announced a motion that could lead […]

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Letter to Ministers Ng and Bains – TRIPS Council waiver

On November 15, 2020, the Legal Network sent this letter to the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade, and the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, urging them to support a proposal currently before the WTO’s TRIPS Council (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) to waive stringent […]

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Summary Policy Brief – HIV: Funding the Fight

From the launch of the Federal Initiative in 2004–05 through the end of the 2017–18 fiscal year, more than $123 million in total has been diverted or withheld from committed HIV funding. Services and organizations have either closed or have discontinued some programs, despite the clear need. Community organizations across the country have called for an adequately funded federal HIV […]

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Decriminalizing People Who Use Drugs: A Primer for Municipal and Provincial Governments

As the COVID-19 pandemic and the overdose crisis sweep across Canada, all policymakers have an obligation to adopt evidence-based measures that uphold the health and safety of people who use drugs. This includes municipal and provincial governments, who can take immediate steps to minimize the harms of current drug laws by decriminalizing drug possession for […]

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October 2020

Written submission for consideration by the Independent Civilian Review into Missing Person Investigations

This written submission complements comments made previously during our participation in two community consultation sessions. In it, we wish to expand upon our overarching submission that the unjustified criminalization of specific populations, and the role of police in enforcing such criminalization, have understandably impeded, and will continue to impede, relationships of trust and cooperation between those communities and police. In […]

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CIVIL SOCIETY LETTER SUPPORTING PROPOSAL BY INDIA AND SOUTH AFRICA ON WAIVER FROM CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE TRIPS AGREEMENT FOR THE PREVENTION, CONTAINMENT AND TREATMENT OF COVID-19

We are one of 379 civil society organizations from around the world that have signed onto a letter supporting the proposal to waive WTO intellectual property rules on patents, trade secrets, industrial designs and copyright for COVID-19 technology (such as medicines, vaccines, masks, and ventilators).   Your organization can sign on here.   CIVIL SOCIETY […]

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Blog: No time to waste: Lethbridge’s overdose prevention site needs federal support now

Written by Tim Slaney, volunteer coordinator of the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society, and Sandra Ka Hon Chu, the Director of Research and Advocacy at the HIV Legal Network.  At a time when people who use drugs in Alberta are at greatest risk of harm, their own government is doubling down on draconian measures that will undoubtedly result […]

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Consultation on the development of new regulations under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

Sent by email to Office of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, Controlled Substances Directorate, Controlled Substances and Cannabis Branch, Health Canada. Since the HIV Legal Network’s inception, the organization has advocated for drug policies that respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of people who use drugs, including through effective, equitable access to harm reduction services. We are pleased to […]

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Comic: No police at overdoses (Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act)

In 2017, the Canadian government passed the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, a law meant to provide certain legal protections for people who witness an overdose in Canada and call 911 for emergency assistance. Janet Butler-McPhee and Sandra Ka Hon Chu of the HIV Legal Network partnered with Emily van der Meulen at Ryerson University on a new research […]

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HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS FILE LEGAL CHALLENGE CITING CANADA’S FAILURE TO PROTECT PRISONERS’ HEALTH IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID-19

On May 12, 2020, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), HIV Legal Network, Canadian Prison Law Association (CPLA), HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO), and current federal prisoner Sean Johnston filed a constitutional and human rights challenge against the Government of Canada, to compel it to take proactive steps to ensure prisoners’ safety in the […]

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Media Reporting: HIV and the Criminal Law

This guide is an evidence-based resource to assist journalists in Canada in reporting responsibly and accurately about alleged HIV non-disclosure and resulting criminal cases. People living with HIV in Canada can be prosecuted for “aggravated sexual assault” (one of the most serious charges in the Criminal Code) if they don’t tell their sexual partners, in […]

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The Federal Initiative to Address HIV/AIDS in Canada (2004)

By the Government of Canada: “The launch of the Federal Initiative to Address HIV/AIDS in Canada signals a renewed and strengthened federal role in the Canadian response to HIV/AIDS.The Federal Initiative – a partnership of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Correctional Service Canada – will work toward a […]

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September 2020

Introducing the HIV Legal Network

We’ve changed our name. Here’s why. We’ve been the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network for more than 25 years. That’s a long history of challenging injustice and defending human rights for all, including and especially people living with, at risk of, and affected by HIV. But to work for justice, we need a name that does […]

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August 2020

Open Letter to Premier Kenney: Supervised Consumption Services in Lethbridge, Alberta

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Former prisoner Steve Simons writes why a prison needle exchange program is needed

          Steve Simons is a former inmate. He joined forces with the Legal Network as a co-applicant in a lawsuit against the Government of Canada over its failure to protect prisoners’ right to health and prevent the spread of HIV and HCV in federal prisons.           I […]

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Statement: Court Decision Means Lawmakers Must Act to End Unjust, Unscientific Prosecutions Of People Living With HIV

The following statement is issued jointly by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (“Legal Network”), the Coalition des organismes communautaires québécois de lutte contre le sida (COCQ-SIDA), and the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO). August 7, 2020 — This week, the Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision in R. v N.G., a case […]

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July 2020

Open letter to Minister of Justice: stop enforcing sex work laws immediately

July 23, 2020 The Hon. David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Dear Minister Lametti: In 2014, the federal government passed the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (S.C. 2014, c. 25), criminalizing all facets of sex work, including selling sex in a public space, purchasing sex in all spaces, all material benefits from […]

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Media Statement: Civil Society Organizations Renew Call for Drug Decriminalization

Civil Society Organizations Renew Call for Drug Decriminalization The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police now recognizes harms of criminalization The following statement is issued by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, and Pivot Legal Society.   July 10, 2020 — Yesterday, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) released […]

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June 2020

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act: The Good, the Bad, and the Ineffective

In Canada, people who use drugs are dying in record numbers. Between January 2016 and September 2019, more than 14,700 people died of apparent opioid overdoses in this country. In Ontario alone, more than 1450 people died from opioid-related causes in 2018. The overwhelming majority of these overdoses and deaths involve fentanyl or its analogues, […]

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LA PÉNALISATION DU VIH EN AFRIQUE FRANCOPHONE : ENJEUX ET RÉFORMES

Sorry, this entry is only available in French.

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Submission to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in relation to its study on arbitrary detention relating to drug policies

We are grateful to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for the opportunity to make this submission, and respond below to questions relevant to Canada in the Working Group’s questionnaire, to the extent that requested data is available in Canada.

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May 2020

Submission to Edmonton City Council: reject the proposal to permanently close Edmonton’s Body Rub Centres

In March 2020, Body Rub Centres in Edmonton were closed pursuant to a State of Local Emergency Order, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 27, 2020, Edmonton City Councillor Jon Dziadyk stated he wants to explore options for accelerating the permanent closure of Body Rub Centres in the next annual update, given that the Centres are currently […]

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Media release: Civil society organizations call for drug decriminalization as a necessary response to COVID-19

  May 14, 2020 — Today, more than 50 leading human rights, health, and drug policy organizations from across the country, including the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Pivot Legal Society, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, Canadian Association of People who use Drugs, Amnesty International, the BC Centre on Substance Use, and the Canadian Public Health […]

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Letter to Canadian Government: Decriminalize simple drug possession immediately

SIGN IN SUPPORT OF THE DECRIMINALIZATION OF DRUG POSSESSION (organizations only)   The HIV Legal Network, Pivot Legal Society and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition have joined forces to call on key ministers in the federal government to immediately decriminalize the possession of illicit drugs in response to the twin crises of opioid overdoses and […]

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LEGAL CHALLENGE CITING CANADA’S FAILURE TO PROTECT PRISONERS’ HEALTH DURING COVID-19: NOTICE OF APPLICATION

On May 12, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Canadian Prison Law Association (CPLA), HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO), and current federal prisoner Sean Johnston filed a constitutional and human rights challenge against the Government of Canada, to compel it to take proactive steps to ensure prisoners’ safety in the […]

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NEWS RELEASE: LEGAL CHALLENGE CITING CANADA’S FAILURE TO PROTECT PRISONERS’ HEALTH DURING COVID-19

                                         HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS FILE LEGAL CHALLENGE CITING CANADA’S FAILURE TO PROTECT PRISONERS’ HEALTH IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID-19 Correctional Service Canada must take steps to reduce the prison population to the greatest extent possible    May 12, 2020 — The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Canadian Prison Law Association […]

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Gendering the Scene: Women, Gender-Diverse People, and Harm Reduction in Canada – Full report

At writing, Canada is facing an unprecedented overdose crisis that is killing at alarming rates. Canada’s ongoing fixation on criminal prohibition as the primary approach to addressing drug use has led to a situation in which people who use drugs continue to face criminalization, political and social hostility, and limited access to harm reduction and health […]

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Gendering the Scene: Women, Gender-Diverse People, and Harm Reduction in Canada – Summary report

There are marked differences between men, women, and gender-diverse people in terms of their drug use and how laws and policies affect them. However, insufficient attention is paid to the needs of women and gender-diverse people who use drugs and their access to health services, including harm reduction services. This is especially true for gender-diverse […]

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STATEMENT: A SETBACK FOR PRISONERS’ RIGHTS AND PUBLIC HEALTH

The following statement is issued by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. Comments can be attributed to Sandra Ka Hon Chu, Director of Research and Advocacy. Court suggests denying sterile injection equipment to prisoners may breach Charter rights, but declines to find that flaws in current federal prison needle exchange program make it unconstitutional May 1, 2020 […]

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