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Parties speak out about a forgotten issue

This Magazine Staff

According to 2005 estimates from the Public Health Agency of Canada, some 58,000 Canadians are living with HIV, and about a quarter of those are unaware of their condition.
I was surprised to learn the numbers were that high, and apparently, so were the five party leaders. Four of the five federal party platforms (the Green Party being the exception) have produced no plans to put money towards AIDS research, prevention, education or treatment in Canada. (Though, both the NDP and the Liberal platforms have vague mentions of plans to help solve the AIDS crisis in developing countries.)
According to an article in the Toronto Star today, over the last two years Harper’s Conservatives have scuppered nearly $21 million in federal AIDS funding. The 2004 federal government moved to double funding from $42.2 million to $84.4 million by 2008/2009, but much like the national day care program, once Harper got his hands on the plan, things turned out quite differently.
The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network asked seven questions of the five parties as to what they would do for the HIV/AIDS community if elected next Tuesday. All but one party responded (I’ll give you one guess…).
The whole report can be downloaded in PDF form here, but here’s a quick recap of how four leaders responded to the first question: Will your party increase funding for Canadian and international research on HIV prevention technologies, including microbicides and vaccines?

The Bloc Québécois
The Bloc proposes that Ottawa “substantially increase its budget allocations for basic reseach,” and comments on the fact that the Quebec provincial government already provides resources for the fight against AIDS, and suggests that any extra funding provided by Ottawa should be paid directly to the provinces to allow them to strengthen their own health care systems.
The Greens
The Green Party supports increased funding for research on prevention technologies and believes that the costs will pay for themselves in the long run by “reducing reducing long-term treatment costs and improving the productivity of future generations.”
The Liberals
Camp Dion proposes a comprehensive approach that focuses on prevention, care, treatment and provide funding for the research on prevention technologies.
The New Democrats
The NDP insists that “prevention must be the cornerstone of any effective HIV/AIDS strategy” and says that a New Democratic government will ensure that federal support for prevention research is “pegged at the highest priority.”
Really, they’re all saying pretty much the same thing, which is fine. What I am more concerned about is the party that isn’t saying anything at all.

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