Silencing Voices: Canadian Government Refuses Funding for AIDS Advocacy

Slowly but surely the Harper government is shutting down agencies and silencing the voices of those that disagree with them. After shutting down programs and shutting scientists up, they are now going after charities and interest groups.

First they put new tax rules in place in their omnibus budget bill that reduces the amount Canadians can donate to charities that are considered too politically active and allowing the minister to withhold tax receipts if he or she decides the charity is doing too much political work.

Now the Health Minister has refused funding to 16 of 20 applications made by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Action Network. The Network’s mandate is to ensure that the human rights of people living with HIV and AIDS are respected and to advocate for laws and policies that “facilitate HIV prevention efforts, as well as care, treatment and support for people living with HIV/AIDS.”

The Harper government has decided that advocating for people living with HIV/AIDS or at risk of developing the disease is too controversial an effort to receive government funding – presumably because of the populations most at risk of contracting the disease. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. After all, the same Conservative government spent thousands in taxpayer dollars and years fighting against a safe injection site in Vancouver that has saved lives.

The spokesperson for Minister of Health, Steve Outhouse, told the Globe and Mail that the decision doesn’t mean that non-profits that do advocacy work can’t get federal funding, it just means they can’t get funding for their advocacy work. Of course, deciding what qualifies as advocacy work is up to the government.

The Network, now facing layoffs and program cuts, will serve as a bleak message to other non-profits that work for the benefit of marginalized populations. If any kind of advocacy is deemed too political, and thus ineligible for funding, a multitude of non-profits could be wiped off the map.

If you don’t fit into Stephen Harper’s ideology, you’re going to have to fight that much harder to continue any work you’re doing, and it could be a big loss for our society.

Related Stories:

When It Comes To Fighting AIDS, Mother Knows Best

Clinton Pledges New US Funds For “AIDS-Free Generation”

In One Place: Why We Need To Integrate Family Planning And HIV/AIDS Services

Photo Credit: JoséMa Orsini


Elaine McAuliffe
Elaine McAuliffe6 years ago

Sadly, Canada seems to have been taken over by the same type of untra-right, repressive anti-citizen politicians that represent the tea baggers here. I always thought better of the Canadians.

Brenda Trahan
brenda t6 years ago

Dear Canada, I'm sorry for you. But then again, people in glass houses should not throw stones. Our country is not a whole lot better if any. Aids is not a political disease. It is a human disease. When our goverments decide to look out for all of us, for one it would be a miracle, but 2 it would mean they are doing their job we elected them to do instead of doing for themselves. It seems we all have our problems with our governments.

marc page
Marc P6 years ago

Sounds to me like Stephen Harper is a CIA plant.

Dale Overall

Sarah M asks when are the Canadian people and opposition going to force an election? Sorry Sarah but the troll living under the bridge in Parliament has a majority government and we are stuck with the conservative party until the next election. Unlikely that it will survive one majority government as its true colours are really showing. It used to be the Progressive Conservative party until the Reform/Alliance (Deform?) Party trolls took over the conservatives and messed it up.
In 1993 the then Progressive Conservative party had 156 seats in Parliament. After the election they were wiped off the map and left with only 2 seats losing official party status. It can happen again if Harper keeps his agenda steam rolling over the sick, poor, seniors to mention but a few.

Dale Overall

Stephen Harper is ruthless, silencing every group that he can intimidate but he does that even within his party. The budget also did a number on environmental issues to name one, imposing regressive policies nestled within the budget. No surprise that cutting funding for issues that the Harperites dislike is on the agenda. Only 39.6 percent of us voted for Hapless Harper. A good reason for proportional representation if I ever saw one.

Dale Overall

Paula M sounds like a tory. No doubt the Harper government funds all the charities that tout his political philosophy!

Tricia H must have her head stuck in the crab grass as she says that: "Canada Sucks. Why would they help Aids patients when they go on killing sprees every chance they get?"

Killing sprees? Have we launched military invasions to conquer some tiny country half way across the world? Pillaging villages? Off in our pirate ships seizing vessels off the coast of Somalia? Finding some warm weather tropical country to annex and send our populace to in February while it is -40C? "Killing sprees. Every chance we get?"

Dale Overall

Where are these massive killing sprees? In our theatres with killers spraying the movie viewers with semi automatic weapon bullets? Just wondering. Guess you must be referring to the seal hunt which involves a tiny percentage of the Canadian population but no, you label all Canadians and Canada "sucks" with our killing sprees every chance we get. Picked up some apricots today and will slice into them while making a fruit salad, pardon me while I go off and kill the cherries as well. The kale in the fridge is quaking as I type.

On your way out to protest don't forget to sign the petition protesting the 100,000 horses that the U.S. ships off to Canada every year to be sent to Europe for the horse steaks that Europeans purchase in the grocery stores. Or the factory farms that exist in the U.S. for most of the meat industry instead of organic farms where farm animals see the light of day and aren't crammed into cages and pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics? If you aren't vegan or vegetarian are the steaks you buy from factory farms? I buy organic at least. But I won't say your country sucks because of the acts of a minority of people or that Americans go on killing sprees every time they get as that would be impolite, rude and untrue.

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V6 years ago


change twentytwelve

Harper, you bastard, but then you are/ were so tight with Bush that I might think you were LOVERS! Canada seems to be dealing with the extremism of the right, just hopefully not to the degree of the U.S. I'm calling my parents in Ontario tonight, but it's now more than a call of family re-connecting (I'm in L.A., sister in NYC) & I will ask my step- mother about what is going on, and what Her perspective, and those she know is.

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P6 years ago

This is sad, Harper is ruining everything