Time is money for AIDS strategy
By Karen Papay
Changes to the national AIDS strategy are expected to be announced on Dec. 1 but some groups are unhappy with the timing of the news, citing time constraints and drawbacks.
In a June election campaign promise, the Liberals vowed to enter phase III of the national AIDS strategy which will revamp and set new priorities for allocation of funds. Since July, a number of different organizations involved with HIV/AIDS formed the HIV/AIDS Stakeholders Group and have been working throughout the consultation phase to provide Health Minister Allan Rock direction for the new strategy, said Kathy Hendrick, a media relations spokesperson for the Canadian AIDS Society which is a member of the Stakeholders Group.
However, the announcement may come too late for certain HIV/AIDS groups which require approval for project funding before the end of Phase II, said Clarence Crossman, education coordinator for the AIDS Committee of London. Because the approval process takes time and applicants are unsure of who to apply to, projects will be delayed.
Although operational funding for long-term projects, may be extended for one year after the end of Phase II, project funding will be more affected, as it ends once Phase II expires on March 31, 1998, Crossman said. "We are very frustrated because since the government began the consultation process for the new strategy only after the election, we expect to lose six months of groundwork since funding may not start until the fall."
The AIDS Committee of London, along with several other community based HIV/AIDS education and prevention groups, receives operational funding for long-term and ongoing programs and funding for programs expected to be completed within three to four years of their induction.
The AIDS Community Action Program (ACAP) of the national AIDS strategy provides funding for these community programs. However, ACAP sets the criteria for selecting special projects to be funded based on the priorities of the national AIDS strategy.
Health Canada seems to be aware of the possibility that some project funding may be delayed in reaching its target group, however, they are trying their best to avoid it, said Robert Shearer, a spokesperson for Health Canada. "Our objective is to get the new strategy in place as quickly as possible to be able to accept new approvals."
With respect to the short amount of time left before Phase III begins, the Liberal government does seem to be aware of this problem and is rushing through to meet the deadline, Hendrick said.