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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.


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

September 2021

Criminalization and stigma exacerbate violence against women who use drugs in the Russian Federation

Criminalization and stigma exacerbate violence against women who use drugs in the Russian Federation Report in relation to the 9th Periodic Report of the Russian Federation CEDAW/C/RUS/9 This report is submitted by Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice (ARF) on behalf of the Russian Civil Society Mechanism for Monitoring of Drug Policy Reforms. […]

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HIV, Hepatitis C and Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infections in Canada: Top Election 2021 Issues

Joint press release: HIV, Hepatitis C and Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infections in Canada: Top Election 2021 Issues Health and human rights groups identify priorities for federal policymakers as people in Canada head to the polls Tuesday, September 14, 2021 – More than 60,000 people are currently living with HIV in Canada, approximately 13% of […]

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August 2021

9th Symposium Report – Hitting the Mark: Ending the HIV pandemic by realizing rights for people who use drugs

On June 17, 2021, the HIV Legal Network held its 9th Symposium on HIV, Law, and Human Rights. This biannual symposium serves as one of Canada’s seminal events regarding HIV and human rights and offers an opportunity for education and networking among advocates, frontline staff, people with lived experience, and academics, among others. Focusing on […]

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June 2021

Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee: List of Issues Prior to Reporting in Canada

In advance of the adoption of the List of Issues Prior to Reporting for Canada’s periodic review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), to be held during the 132nd session (28 June to 23 July 2021), the HIV Legal Network would like to provide information to the United Nations (UN) Human […]

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Joint Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee: List of Issues Prior to Reporting in Canada

In advance of the adoption of the List of Issues Prior to Reporting for Canada’s periodic review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), to be held during the 132nd session (28 June to 23 July 2021), the HIV Legal Network and the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation (CDPE) would like to […]

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Joint Submission to Toronto City Council on Bill 251, Combating Human Trafficking Act, 2021

Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) (“Butterfly”) was formed by sex workers, social workers, legal and health professionals to provide support to, and advocate for, the rights of Asian and migrant sex workers. Butterfly was founded upon the belief that sex workers are entitled to respect and human rights; regardless of their immigration […]

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Submission to Toronto Board of Health on Toronto Overdose Action Plan: Status Report 2021 (June 3, 2021)

We make this submission to inform the Board of Health’s consideration of the June 3, 2021 Report from the Medical Officer of Health, and in particular, the Medical Officer of Health’s recommendations that the Board of Health “reiterate its call urging the Federal Minister of Health to use the authority under the Controlled Drugs and […]

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Centering Health, Respecting Rights: A training manual for police

Police wield immense power over many marginalized and criminalized communities, who are also disproportionately affected by HIV and/or hepatitis C (HCV). Current movements to reimagine and reduce the role of police and reinvest in community-led initiatives are imperative to promote public health and uphold human rights. At the same time, providing law enforcement with knowledge about […]

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A Moment of Breakthrough: Annual Report 2020-2021

Seizing the moment to push for concrete and lasting change.

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JOINT SUBMISSION TO UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Equality and Non-discrimination with a Focus on Indigenous Women and Girls and Intersecting Forms of Discrimination

The HIV Legal Network and the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) make this submission in support of the plan of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (“CEDAW Committee”) to develop a new General Recommendation on Indigenous women on the topic of “equality and non-discrimination with a focus on Indigenous women and […]

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JOINT SUBMISSION ON NEWMARKET’S PROPOSED BODY RUB PARLOUR BYLAW AMENDMENT

Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) and the HIV Legal Network are providing feedback with respect to the most recent proposed amendments to Newmarket’s body rub parlour bylaw. We urge the Newmarket Town Council to prioritize inclusion and respect as Newmarket community values — rather than promoting systemic racism and hateful perceptions of […]

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MEDIA ADVISORY: LEADING CANADIAN HARM REDUCTION EXPERTS AND LAWMAKERS TO SPEAK AT 9TH SYMPOSIUM ON HIV, LAW, AND HUMAN RIGHTS

LEADING CANADIAN HARM REDUCTION EXPERTS AND LAWMAKERS TO SPEAK AT 9TH SYMPOSIUM ON HIV, LAW, AND HUMAN RIGHTS Media Invited to Join Virtual Sessions on Drug Policy Landscape in Canada For immediate release  Aussi disponible en français Members of the media are invited to attend Hitting the Mark: Ending the HIV pandemic by realizing rights for people who […]

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MEDIA STATEMENT: CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS, FIVE FORMER TORONTO MAYORS CALL ON TORONTO TO DECRIMINALIZE SIMPLE DRUG POSSESSION NOW

CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS, FIVE FORMER TORONTO MAYORS CALL ON TORONTO TO DECRIMINALIZE SIMPLE DRUG POSSESSION NOW HIV Legal Network comment on report to Toronto Board of Health report This statement can be attributed to the HIV Legal Network. June 8, 2021 — As Toronto continues to experience unprecedented numbers of overdose deaths, each new month […]

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STATEMENT: PASSING OF BILL 251 IN ONTARIO WILL NOT END HUMAN TRAFFICKING; WILL TRAMPLE ON HUMAN RIGHTS

STATEMENT: PASSING OF BILL 251 IN ONTARIO WILL NOT END HUMAN TRAFFICKING; WILL TRAMPLE ON HUMAN RIGHTS For immediate release   The following can be attributed to Sandra Ka Hon Chu, Director of Research and Policy, HIV Legal Network and Elene Lam, Executive Director, Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network).   June 2, 2021 […]

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May 2021

National coalition comprised of people who use drugs and drug policy, human rights, and community organizations decry serious flaws in “Vancouver Model” and call for change

National coalition comprised of people who use drugs and drug policy, human rights, and community organizations decry serious flaws in “Vancouver Model” and call for change A system designed ‘by’ police is ‘for’ police, not the people it was intended to help. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, May 11, 2021 Vancouver, B.C.—A broad-based Canada-wide coalition of […]

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HIV CRIMINALIZATION, WOMEN, AND GENDER-DIVERSE PEOPLE: AT THE MARGINS

This is a policy brief on the specific impact of HIV criminalization in Canada on women and gender-diverse people, including exploring how it contributes to, and manifests as a form of, gender-based violence. The brief identifies legal and policy issues that need to be addressed to reduce HIV criminalization and better protect women against gender-based […]

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April 2021

Letter to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada on Medical Inadmissability

The HIV Legal Network and HALCO have submitted this letter to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in response to new regulations amending the immigration and refugee protection regulation. “While the public policy changes made in 2018 to excessive demand in relation to medical inadmissibility — and in particular the decision to raise the threshold by […]

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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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Drug decriminalization and international law: Brief submitted to the Health Canada Expert Task Force on Substance Use

The HIV Legal Network submitted this brief to the Health Canada Expert Task Force on Substance Use as part of their look into alternatives to criminal penalties for simple possession of controlled substances. As we wrote, “Canada has both important latitude under the drug control conventions, and important obligations under human rights treaties it has ratified. […]

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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. The results of the project are […]

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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

NEWS RELEASE: JAMAICAN COURT ALLOWS TV STATIONS TO CENSOR ADVERTISEMENT URGING RESPECT FOR LGBT PEOPLE

  JAMAICAN COURT ALLOWS TV STATIONS TO CENSOR ADVERTISEMENT URGING RESPECT FOR LGBT PEOPLE   October 30, 2020 — Today the Jamaican Court of Appeal delivered its decision in a landmark case by Jamaican-Canadian attorney and human rights activist, Maurice Tomlinson, who is also an LGBTQ rights consultant with the HIV Legal Network. The case, […]

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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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