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Jolibois calls for helping hand

Jolibois calls for helping hand
NDP MP Georgina Jolibois -- Herald file photo.

A north Saskatchewan MP is asking the federal government to provide more funding to grassroots organizations fighting the spread of HIV and AIDS.

During question period on Friday, Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River NDP MP Georgina Jolibois urged the federal government to take action following a meeting between Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and British pop star Elton John. The singer established the Elton John Aids Foundation in 1992 to promote programs and policies for eliminating AIDS around the world.

After the meeting, Trudeau said he was “looking forward to working together to create an AIDS-free future.” Jolibois said that work needs to start in Saskatchewan.

“HIV and AIDS organizations and health professionals across the province are telling us that Saskatchewan is in the midst of an epidemic, but the response has been inadequate from all levels of government,” Jolibois said in a media release. “People with HIV and AIDS in the province deserve to receive the care they need.”

After years of decline, the number of new HIV cases in Saskatchewan increased from 160 in 2015 to 170 in 2016. That number increased again the next year when 177 new cases were discovered. According to groups like the Saskatchewan HIV Collaborative, there are almost triple the number of new cases in Saskatchewan as the national average.

In it’s 2017 HIV Prevention and Control Report, the provincial government attributed that rise to an increase in the number of people tested. According to the report, there was a 71 per cent increase in testing over the past decade. Since 2017-18, the provincial government has contributed more than $31 million to stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS.

However, Jolibois said those efforts are not enough, and she urged the federal government to get involved.

“Nurses and health professionals have called on this government to take urgent action,” Jolibois said during question period.

“Now that he has heard from health professionals and a Grammy winner, will the Prime Minster restore funding immediately to Saskatchewan HIV/AIDS organizations?”

Health minister Ginette Petipas responded that the federal government is already making strides in its plan to limit the reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS. Petipas touted their $87 million investment in 2018-19 to support everything from education to prevention, along with a $30 million harm reduction fund to control HIV and Hepatitis C.

“Our government is deeply committed to addressing HIV and AIDS in Canada,” Petipas said.