Failing to Support Harm Reduction Services in Canada: What Would Be the Harm? - Canadian AIDS Society and the Canadian Harm Reduction Network Launch a New Report on Harm Reduction in Canada

    OTTAWA, June 17 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian AIDS Society in partnership
with the Canadian Harm Reduction Network announced today the launch of a new
publication entitled "Learning from Each Other: Enhancing Community-Based Harm
Reduction Programs and Practices in Canada." The report is the culmination of
a 17-month-long study based on the findings of a harm reduction symposium and
a series of focus groups and site visits in nine medium-sized cities across
Canada. The study was funded by the federal government's Drug Strategy
Community Initiatives Fund.
    "The recent BC Supreme Court judgment on the operation of Insite,
Vancouver's safe injections site, reminds us that harm reduction services are
fundamental healthcare rights and that to deny such services is in effect an
infringement of the right to life, liberty and security of the person. Our
report shows how Canadian harm reduction programs are vital to our communities
through their service to a population that is often marginalized and
alienated," says Monique Doolittle-Romas, Executive Director of the Canadian
AIDS Society. "These programs are making a valuable difference in people's
lives and to society by helping protect the health and well-being of those
most in need. They typically do this under the constraints of insufficient or
insecure funding."
    Targeted to health care professionals, outreach workers and service
providers working in the field of harm reduction in Canada, the report
highlights how various programs were developed and implemented, the challenges
encountered and the lessons learned along the way. It also provides in-depth
testimony from people with drug-use experience about what works well, what
does not, the impact that harm reduction programs and services have on their
lives, and what can be done to improve programs.
    "People who work in harm reduction and people who use drugs told us at
various meetings that they don't know what is happening in other cities. The
need for information sharing is critical," says Gail Flintoft, Chair of the
Board of the Canadian AIDS Society. "We took this project on so that people
don't have to recreate the wheel. Sharing this information will enhance harm
reduction services by enabling people to learn from each other's experiences."
    "Service providers and service users alike told us that having
information about the 'unknown' harm reduction -- what goes on outside the
major cities across Canada - would help them save both lives and money, said
Walter Cavalieri of the Canadian Harm Reduction Network. "Now they have it."
    The report shows how community and health care organizations prevent
harms related to drug use, primarily the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C.
It also portrays the holistic underpinnings of the programs which cater to
both the basic health and emotional well-being of people who use drugs.
    Most importantly, the report shows the human side of harm reduction,
including quotes and perspectives from the many people harm reduction programs
serve. It's a celebration of the dedicated harm reduction pioneers and
proponents who are working to protect the lives of people who use drugs. Often
discussing issues beyond harm reduction, it also provides a compelling glance
at societal challenges, including poverty, homelessness and gentrification in
urban centres.

    The report is currently available on the web site of the Canadian AIDS
Society at: and on the Canadian Harm
Reduction Network's site at:

    Canadian AIDS Society

    The Canadian AIDS Society is a national coalition of over 125
community-based AIDS organizations from across Canada. Dedicated to
strengthening the response to HIV/AIDS across all sectors of society, we also
work to enrich the lives of people and communities living with HIV/AIDS. We
accomplish this by advocating on behalf of people and communities affected by
HIV/AIDS, facilitating the development of programs, services and resources for
our member groups, and providing a national framework for community-based
participation in Canada's response to AIDS.

    The Canadian Harm Reduction Network

    The Canadian Harm Reduction Network was founded late in1999 by a group of
Canadians who work locally, nationally and internationally in harm reduction
and drug policy reform. The Network provides a vehicle for harm reduction
activists, supporters and workers, people who use drugs, and drug-user
organisations to discuss their needs and issues, share information, support
one another and catalyse the development of effective harm reduction policies
and practices and rational drug laws in Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Tricia Diduch, Communications Consultant,
Canadian AIDS Society, (613) 230-3580 (130), 1-800-499-1986 (130),,

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