Canada’s unions mark World AIDS Day by calling for universal pharmacare

December 1, 2020

Canada’s unions are marking World AIDS Day by calling on the federal government to implement single-payer, universal pharmacare. This call has taken on new urgency, given that millions of workers have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and are now struggling to pay for their prescription medications.

World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1, in support of those living with HIV and to remember those lost to HIV/AIDS. This year’s theme is Global Solidarity and Shared Responsibility.

Workers here in Canada and around the world have long called for meaningful investments in public health care, protections for frontline workers and global access to medicines and vaccines. The global response to the COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS pandemics must aim to eliminate stigma and discrimination and ensure the protection and promotion of human rights.

“No one is safe until everyone is safe,” says CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “People living with or affected by HIV have been made especially vulnerable by the COVID pandemic, and not only in terms of increased health risk but in terms of access to the medications they need.”

The pandemic has drastically impacted the lives and livelihoods of workers around the world, highlighting strong connections between access to health care and social inequality. It has exposed existing racial, gender, social and economic inequalities, hitting the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest.

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of new HIV infections in Canada rose by 25.5%. Globally, in the last year, 38 million people were living with HIV and 25.4 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy, 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV and 690,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses.

“Canadian unions are pushing back against austerity and privatization measures to ensure a robust response and recovery that ensures our collective well-being,” said Yussuff. “The current strain on our public health care system threatens access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care. Now more than ever, we need a Canadian plan that’s rooted in our way of doing things – and that means taking care of one another.”

To write to your MP on this issue, click here.

Related Articles

CLC Statement on the fatal crane collapse in Kelowna, BC

Today we learned that five people lost their lives, and more were injured due to the tragic crane collapse in Kelowna, BC. The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) extends its deepest condolences to the families, coworkers and friends of those people who didn’t return from work, as well as to those who suffered injuries and trauma as a result of this…
Read More

Job numbers show pandemic’s hardest hit continue to struggle most

Canada’s unions are raising the alarm that hundreds of thousands of workers are facing cutbacks to pandemic supports, while the job market remains far from recovery. “Our biggest concern is those workers who are at risk of dropping out of the labour market altogether. “Many workers are just giving up because they can’t find work, or because a lack of…
Read More

Open Letter to the Working People of Canada

Friends and Allies, A few short weeks ago, I was truly honoured to be elected to serve the working people of Canada as president of the Canadian Labour Congress. My fellow officers and I do not take this responsibility lightly – and it is not a job anyone can do alone. We are counting on you for your support ……
Read More