Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

November 27, 2006 13:54 ET

Canadian Labour Demands Action, Coherence and Leadership in Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Unions Join GTAG Demands for Government Commitment to Fight Pandemic

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 27, 2006) - As we get closer to December 1, World AIDS Day, Canadian workers and their unions call on the federal government to end its long silence on HIV/AIDS and make some much-needed commitments to fight the disease at home and abroad.

"We are at risk of losing some valuable ground in our fight against HIV/AIDS because the Canadian government has deserted the field in the middle of battle," says Hassan Yussuff, secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress.

The Canadian Labour Congress adds its voice to the ninety organizations that support the call of the Global Treatment Access Group (GTAG) and share their prescriptions about what Canada should do to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"For years, Canadian workers and their unions have been on the frontlines of the fight to prevent the spread of the disease, to protect affected workers against discrimination and unemployment and to help develop strategies to make medical treatment accessible. At times, we have been able to count on the government to accompany our efforts. However, the government's continuous withdrawal from these issues, over the last year, could end up defeating all we've accomplished."

Last summer, in Toronto, just prior to the 16th International AIDS Conference, the Canadian Labour Congress hosted trade union delegates from across Canada and 36 countries at the very first global Labour Forum on AIDS. That gathering built on a decade of work by Canadian unions, at home and abroad: we have successfully developed and shared expertise in dealing with the disease, not just in the workplace and in the community, but also from a public policy point of view at the national and international levels.

The Canadian Labour Congress calls for action in:

- Health promotion and proper recognition of health workers at home and abroad - An essential prerequisite for improving health and fighting disease is a functioning public, not-for-profit health care system and the capacity to train and retain health care workers and professionals.

- Allow Canadian generic drug makers to export affordable and accessible medicines to countries that need them - The hopes raised by the adoption, for these purposes, in 2004, of amendments to our patent laws have been totally dashed. Though the law came into effect in May 2005, not a single generic pill has left Canada because of disincentives in the legislation itself.

- Follow through on Canada's commitments on AIDS and development matters - Canada has not kept the promises made at the United Nations and at the G-8. The federal government needs to find the monies to pay its fair share of the financing needed by the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and to provide the development assistance needed to end poverty and reach the Millennium Development Goals. Canada should also use its seat in international financial institutions (International Monetary Fund and World Bank) and lend its voice to poor nations to cancel the debt of the 60 countries most burdened by AIDS and poverty.

"On HIV/AIDS, Canadian workers and their unions demand action, coherence and leadership from government. We don't want to risk wasting a decade of good work because we don't have serious commitment to public health care at home and abroad, to development assistance that really fights poverty and to drug patent laws that effectively allow poor countries to get the drugs they need," concludes Yussuff.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 135 district labour councils. Web site:

Contact Information

  • Canadian Labour Congress
    Jean Wolff
    613-526-7431 and 613-878-6040
    Canadian Labour Congress
    Jeff Atkinson
    613-526-7425 and 613-863-1413