Cutting-edge research, controversial issues

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.


October 2020 September 2020 August 2020 July 2020 June 2020 May 2020 April 2020 March 2020 February 2020 January 2020 December 2019 November 2019

October 2020

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 Canadian HIV/AIDS 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 […]

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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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April 2020

Blog: How we’re advancing rights for all during COVID-19

We advocate for communities who are ignored and excluded, or even scapegoated and criminalized. So with the emergence of this new pandemic, we’re not surprised that the most marginalized among us (including prisoners, people who use drugs, sex workers, those without housing, and migrants) are among those experiencing the most harm. COVID-19 is not “the […]

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ONTARIO: Protecting Prisoner Health during COVID-19

  SIGN YOUR NAME IN SUPPORT OF PRISON HEALTH IN ONTARIO (both individuals and organizations can sign)    Download letter   April 23, 2020   Hon. Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General, Ministry of the Solicitor General Hon. Christine Elliott, Minister of Health and Deputy Premier, Ministry of Health Hon. Doug Downey, Attorney General of Ontario, Ministry of the Attorney General   Dear […]

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SECOND LETTER TO GOVERNMENT (FOLLOW UP): COVID-19 – PROTECTING PRISONER HEALTH

Download letter to Federal Minister Bill Blair and Commissioner of CSC Anne Kelly.   April 13, 2020   The Hon. Bill Blair Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Public Safety Canada Anne Kelly, Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada   Dear Minister Blair and Commissioner Kelly: Re: COVID-19 – Protecting Prisoner Health We […]

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FLATTEN INEQUALITY: Human rights in the age of COVID-19

In the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, law- and policymakers are taking and contemplating drastic measures to minimize the spread of the virus. But hasty and broad punitive measures may perversely undermine public health objectives while also violating human rights — so it is essential that any measures be appropriately narrow and comply with […]

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Letter: Protect The Right to Health of People Who Use Drugs During COVID-19

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network has joined leaders in harm reduction to call on the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health to provide guidance to states on how to promote and protect the right to health of people who use drugs in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 emergency poses unprecedented challenges, creating […]

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Letter: Canadian border closed to refugees

        The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Doctors Without Borders Canada and Amnesty International Canada called on the Canadian government to uphold refugee laws and treaties and to immediately reverse its March 20, 2020 Orders in Council legislation during COVID-19 to shut the Canada-US border to people seeking refugee protection and return them […]

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March 2020

Letter: Reject the socio-economic “review” of supervised consumption sites in Alberta 

Read our open letter (download here) in response to Alberta’s “review” of supervised consumption sites, which has been endorsed by 30 Canadian organizations. We have sent this to Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta; Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health; and Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.   Dear Premier Kenney, Minister Shandro, and Associate Minister Luan: We […]

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Open letter to government: COVID-19 – Protecting Prisoner Health

Download letter to Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. Download letter to Federal Minister Bill Blair and Commissioner of CSC Anne Kelly.   March 17, 2020   The Hon. Bill Blair Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Public Safety Canada Anne Kelly, Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada     Dear Minister Blair and Commissioner Kelly:   […]

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NEWS RELEASE: PRISON NEEDLE AND SYRINGE PROGRAM

A PUBLIC HEALTH FAILURE: FORMER PRISONER AND HIV GROUPS IN COURT SUING THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA FOR FAILING TO PROVIDE EFFECTIVE ACCESS TO PRISON NEEDLE AND SYRINGE PROGRAM   This statement is being re-released (with additional information) due to a rescheduling of the court hearing from December 9, 2019 to March 6, 2020.  The following […]

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February 2020

STATEMENT: WHY ARE WE STILL PROSECUTING PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV WHO USE CONDOMS?

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). Comments can be attributed to Richard Elliott, Executive Director, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.   TORONTO, February 12, 2020 — Today, […]

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January 2020

Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants on the Rights to Freedom of Association of Migrants

We make this submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Mr. Felipe González Morales, to describe laws and policies that inhibit migrant sex workers and other marginalized communities from enjoying their right to freedom of association, as well as concrete steps that States, international organizations and the UN can take […]

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Supporting Health and Human Rights in Drug Policy: Brief to the Minister of Health and Canadian Delegation to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs

This brief is submitted to the Minister of Health and members of the Canadian delegation to the 63rd session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) by the Canadian Civil Society Working Group on UN Drug Policy (see Appendix). The Working Group was originally established in preparation for the 2016 UNGASS. Since this event, […]

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December 2019

NEWS RELEASE: PRISON NEEDLE AND SYRINGE PROGRAM

A PUBLIC HEALTH FAILURE:  FORMER PRISONER AND HIV GROUPS IN COURT SUING THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA FOR FAILING TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO EFFECTIVE PRISON NEEDLE AND SYRINGE PROGRAM   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.   December […]

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Media advisory: Prison needle exchange program court hearing

FORMER PRISONER AND HIV GROUPS IN COURT SUING THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA FOR FAILING TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO EFFECTIVE PRISON NEEDLE AND SYRINGE PROGRAM   The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, a former prisoner, and three other HIV organizations are suing the Government of Canada over its failure to provide prisoners with easy, confidential, and effective […]

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November 2019

NEWS RELEASE: CANADA’S TOP 5 ISSUES FOR WORLD AIDS DAY 2019

  November 28, 2019 — Sunday, December 1 is World AIDS Day, and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is calling on the Government of Canada to respond to HIV with a renewed emphasis on human rights and a much-needed infusion of resources. The latest data shows HIV infections are continuing to rise, with a 17.1% increase […]

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