Grassroots campaign begins to build support for quick passage of bill after election
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TORONTO, April 26 /CNW/ - A new public opinion poll shows twice as many
Canadians (35%) believe the country's international reputation has
declined in the last few years rather than improved (17%), with a third
(37%) believing it has just remained the same. But according to the
same poll, seven in 10 Canadians (71%) feel that it would improve the
country's reputation if Canada were to pass a bill making it easier to
supply less expensive, generic medicines to people in developing
countries for diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Canada
was on the verge of passing such a law — Bill C-393 to reform Canada's
Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) — before it was delayed in the Senate
and thus died on the order paper when the election was called.
"This poll confirms the tremendous opportunity presented to Members of
Parliament and Senators willing to fix Canada's broken Access to
Medicines Regime," said Richard Elliott, Executive Director of the
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. "Not only will such a bill help get
desperately needed medicines to people dying of treatable diseases, it
will also improve Canada's reputation as a good global citizen."
With Canada's foreign aid now frozen and the loss of a seat at the UN
Security Council seen by some as a setback for the country's
international reputation, humanitarian initiatives such as legislation
to fix CAMR — which will cost taxpayers nothing — presents a compelling
In fact, a grassroots movement made up of grandmothers groups, student
organizations, and health and human rights activists have launched www.AIDSaction.ca. It asks every candidate from the major federal parties in every riding
to indicate whether they support fixing CAMR to help those most in
need. The website will track candidates' responses online in an
interactive chart so voters across the country can see which candidates
in their riding have already stated their support for fixing CAMR. It
also makes it easy for voters to e-mail the candidates in their ridings
to ask them where they stand if they haven't yet replied.
"Canadians were strongly behind a bill that would have saved lives,"
said Andrea Beal, co-chair of the National Advocacy Committee of the
Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. "We're asking candidates to
listen to the will of the people and support making affordable
medicines accessible to developing countries. This new poll is just
further evidence of why they should act."
Created unanimously by Parliament in 2004, CAMR has been rendered
practically useless because of red tape. Only one order of one medicine
was ever filled, and to just a single country. The one generic drug
company that did use CAMR has said it will not attempt to use the
cumbersome process again, nor will any developing countries try.
Critical to the goal of cutting through this red tape is the
"one-license solution", a key part of any CAMR-reform legislation.
Before Bill C-393 died in the Senate last month, public momentum was
behind efforts to make affordable medicines available to people who
need them. The legislation - which included the "one-license solution"
— had the support of many prominent Canadians including international
aid workers, human rights leaders, physicians and faith leaders. It was
also supported by more than 70 000 Canadians who signed a petition or
sent letters calling on Parliament to pass the bill into law. When the
House voted on March 9, Bill C-393 passed by a strong majority — 172 to
111 — with support from MPs representing all parties.
"Canadians have shown over and over that they get it when it comes to
the rights of all people to have access to medicines that will save
their lives," said Aria Ahmad, coordinator of the University of Toronto
chapter of the international student group Universities Allied for
Essential Medicines (UAEM). "We urge candidates for Parliament to
listen to them."
More background information on efforts to fix Canada's Access to
Medicines Regime including detailed arguments by international legal
and health experts in favour of previous legislative attempts to do
just that can be reviewed at www.aidslaw.ca/camr.
About the Poll
The poll was conducted by Vision Critical for the Canadian HIV/AIDS
Legal Network. From April 15 to 16, Vision Critical conducted an online
survey among a randomly selected, representative sample of 1011
Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panel members. The full
dataset has been statistically weighted according to the most current
gender, age, region, education (and in Quebec, language) Census data to
ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of
Canada. The margin of error is ±3.0%, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies
in or between totals are due to rounding.
SOURCE CANADIAN HIV/AIDS LEGAL NETWORK
For further information:
Director of Communications, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Telephone: +1 416 268-2549, firstname.lastname@example.org
Principal, Empower Consulting for the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Telephone: +1 416 996-0767, email@example.com