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Ford votes alone against funding for HIV/AIDS programs

Rob Ford also opposes grants for seniors, immigrants, poor and disabled

Once again, Mayor Rob Ford was the lone member on City Council to vote against grant money earmarked to HIV/AIDS related programs.

The grant was even supported by right-wing councillors Doug Ford, Doug Holyday and Michael Thompson.

But not Ford. In a stunning 37 to 1 vote at the very end of the day July 13, Ford was the only one to say no to budgeted funding earmarked to The AIDS Prevention Community Investment Program (APCIP), a program that reaches more than 250,000 people through outreach and workshops.

Councillors that were absent from the vote include Paul Ainslie, Maria Augimeri, Josh Colle, Gary Crawford, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Giorgio Mammoliti and Karen Stintz.

The APCIP includes an allocation of $1,679,000 to be used between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.
Mayor Rob Ford was again the only vote against funding for HIV/AIDS related programs
(Andrea Houston)

The funding pays for outreach workers and funds projects at several vital community organizations, including at the 519 Church Street Community Centre, Action Positive, Africans In Partnership Against AIDS, the AIDS Committee of Toronto, the Alliance of South Asian AIDS Prevention, Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention, Central Toronto Community Health Centers, Fife House, the Hassle Free Clinic, Native Child and Family Services, Youthlink and Schools Without Borders, to name a few.

Black CAP’s chair Angela Robertson tells Xtra that the grants support a community of people who are often marginalized and face tremendous stigma and discrimination.

“The kinds of services that the mayor has voted against are part of invisible yet essential services in our communities,” she says. “We need the support of the city for prevention work that these grants support. It’s incomprehensible why the mayor would vote against these kinds of supports. But it’s heartening to know that these grants were approved.”

The projects target gay and bisexual men, injection drug users, women and men from countries where HIV is endemic, people living with HIV/AIDS, gay youth, trans populations, youth at risk, sex workers and incarcerated men and women.

There is no financial impact beyond what has been approved in the city’s 2011 approved operating budget, the city report states.

The vote capped two days at council that saw Ford vote against six other community development grants programs that improve the lives of the city’s seniors, immigrants, the poor and the disabled. The community development and recreation committee recommended that the city give 259 groups a total of $7.2 million. Some of the groups include Etobicoke Services for Seniors, Cabbagetown Youth Centre, the New Canadian Community Centre and Variety Village.

The mayor was defeated 43 to 1 when he tried to halt funding for Access Equity and Human Rights, the Community Recreation Investment Program and the Community Safety Investment Program and Community Festivals and Special Events, which includes Caribana.

Much like his days as a city councillor, Ford made a point of telling city council he opposes them all. Ultimately all the grants passed.

If he got his way, the move would have further impacted marginalized black communities that are targeted through outreach at Caribana, Black CAP’s Michael Went points out.

“He voted to end funding to festivals and events like Caribana, which is another way Black CAP does outreach. That’s funding that helps marginalized black communities. After the vote, he then goes out to celebrate the launch of Caribana.”

It’s also not the first time Ford has voted against funding earmarked to HIV prevention strategies. In February, the mayor was the only member of council to vote against accepting $100,000 from the provincial government to establish screening programs for syphilis and HIV.

Ford has also consistently voted against the APCIP every year since 2006.

Source: http://www.xtra.ca/public/Toronto/Ford_votes_alone_against_funding_for_HIVAIDS_programs-10493.aspx

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