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Health

Liberals hope to deal with HIV non-disclosure issue if re-elected: Lametti

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TORONTO — The Liberals hope to address the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure if re-elected in the fall, the federal justice minister said Friday as advocacy groups pushed the government to make changes to the law.

HIV non-disclosure has led to assault or sexual assault charges because it’s been found to invalidate a partner’s consent — the rationale being that if someone knew a person had HIV, they wouldn’t consent to sexual activity because of the risk of transmission.

Advocates say the justice system lags behind the science on the issue, with a growing body of evidence saying there is no realistic possibility of transmission of HIV if a person is on antiretroviral therapy and has had a suppressed viral load for six months.

A parliamentary committee has been examining the issue for months and is expected to release a report with recommendations next week. Justice Minister David Lametti said the Liberals want to address the matter but won’t have time to act before the October election.

“Our legislative runway is over,” Lametti said after speaking at a symposium on HIV criminalization in Toronto. “The house will rise at some point, perhaps as early as next week … I hope that our government will be re-elected so we’ll be able to hit the ground running.”

Lametti said the Liberals, if returned to power, could explore options that include drafting a criminal law provision that targets intentional transmission of HIV.

“We need to look at the criminal law … and look at what’s within our jurisdiction … and trying to achieve that balance, as a number of people in the room have stated, in trying to draft a criminal law provision which targets only intent and not criminalize everything else,” he said.

Richard Elliott, Executive Director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, said he’s concerned that the timing of the committee’s report — so close to the federal election — could mean its recommendations get lost.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s taken this long, several-year process since the last election, to get to the point of actually having a committee report with some recommendations that could then inform possible legislation,” he said. “The issue, however, isn’t going to go away for people living with HIV … we will continue to press for Criminal Code reform.”

In 2017, then-federal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said she would examine how the criminal justice system dealt with people who do not disclose their HIV status to sexual partners.

Late last year, the government instructed federal prosecutors in the North that they should no longer prosecute anyone for not disclosing their HIV status to a sex partner where there is no risk of transmitting the virus. The rules apply only in the territories where federal prosecutors have jurisdiction.

Elliott said he’s hopeful that the Justice and Human Rights committee’s report will include a recommendation to establish a consistent policy for prosecutors at the provincial level.

Agencies advocating for de-criminalization of HIV non-disclosure agree that the law needs to change and it is a public health issue, not something that should be dealt with as sexual assault, he said.

“There is just a vast overreach in the Criminal Code as it’s been interpreted and applied,” he said. “Parliament needs to fix that and that will remain the case after the coming election.”

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press

City of Red Deer

Massive fines coming for students caught vaping. City teaming up with local high schools to strictly enforce bylaw

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vaping

From The City of Red Deer, Red Deer Public Schools, Ecole La Prairie, and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools

Enforcement of smoking bylaw at Red Deer high schools to curb student vaping

The City of Red Deer, in partnership with Red Deer Public Schools, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools and École La Prairie, is enforcing vaping at Red Deer high schools.

Local schools are seeing an increase in the number of students vaping – or the use of an electronic cigarette – on school property. Under The City’s Smoke-Free Bylaw, vaping is prohibited in public spaces and workplaces, and within 10 metres of playgrounds, seasonal skating rinks, skate parks, sports fields, water spray parks, or toboggan hills.

“Community peace officers will enforce the Smoke-Free Bylaw at high schools in Red Deer which prohibits all forms of smoking including the use of e-cigarettes,” said Scott Tod, Municipal Policing Services Manager. “People in public spaces including workplaces are entitled to a safe environment and vaping puts others at risk.”

“We are seeing students from all grade levels using vaping products. With all high schools in Red Deer partnering with The City of Red Deer, we hope it will continue to educate our students on the health implications of tobacco and vaping,” said Rose McQuay, Principal atÉcole Secondaire Notre Dame High School.

“Student vaping has reached epidemic proportions among Red Deer youth. Not only have ourschools seen a significant increase in students using vaping products, it now ranks as the number one reason for student suspensions,” added Darwin Roscoe, Principal at Hunting Hills High School.

“With the use of The City of Red Deer Smoke-Free Bylaw, it gives us another tool to help enforce the no vaping policy at our school. We are grateful that all high schools in Red Deer are taking the same approach,” said Jean Doyon, Director at École la Prairie.

As per the bylaw, city enforcement will issue tickets to anyone (including students) caught violating the bylaw.

Students caught vaping on school property by a bylaw officer or RCMP member will receive a ticket for violating The City’s Smoke Free Bylaw, with the following fines:

  •   $200 for the first offense
  •   $500 for the second offense
  •   Up to $2500 for the third offense

In addition to the fine, students at Red Deer Public Schools and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools will also receive suspensions from their schools.

Parents with questions are asked to contact their child’s high school administrator.

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Community

Edmonton community members explore using the Emergency Room as an entry point to transitional housing

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(Re-published)

Is there a better way than simply releasing a person experiencing homelessness from the hospital back onto the street? It creates an endless cycle of emergency room visits and escalating costs, not to mention the challenges the patients face in having a successful recovery.

As we continue to look for solutions to homelessness in our city, a group of community members from different fields and backgrounds met recently to brainstorm and discuss alternatives to the practice of releasing patients into a state of homelessness.

That’s a long way of saying that if someone experiencing homelessness comes to an emergency room with a need for medical aid, the only alternative once treated is to release the patient back onto the street.  The chances of recovery are greatly diminished, while the probability of return visits increases.  The costs are severe, both to the person experiencing homelessness and to our ever-more expensive health care system.

Spearheading the initiative is Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, a veteran emergency room physician at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and a Professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta.

Watch this short video to hear from some of those involved and to better understand the concept and learn why there is a growing groundswell of support for this idea.

 

There are many ways that people can get involved with this initiative.  It’s common sense that housing and health are interconnected. Finding solutions to chronic homelessness and easing pressure on our health care system is something we can all get behind.

Please contact Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti directly to learn more about the project and how you can help:

Phone 780.932-7187

lfrances@ualberta.ca

 

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september, 2019

tue06augAll Daysun29sepHot Mess - Erin Boake featured at Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery(All Day)

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