THUNDER BAY — Millions of dollars in funding will aid community-based organizations that address HIV and hepatitis C, along with other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections within the community.
Federal health minister Jean-Yves Duclos on Wednesday announced that Ottawa will be providing a total of $30.5 million for 37 supportive services across Ontario.
In Northwestern Ontario, Elevate NWO will be receiving just over $500,000. Much of it will go towards operational costs for the centre and as well as peer engagement initiatives over the next five years, according to Elevate NWO executive director Holly Gauvin.
"There's less than 20 staff working here and we cover from to the Manitoba border. So if we did not have a robust peer team, we would not be able to do about half of the work we do," Gauvin said.
Other portions of the funding will be put to use for their Strengthening Peer Engagement for Northern Ontario project.
"The fact that we even have half of the services that we have here is because our peers dreamt it," she said. "They [envisioned] what they saw for the organization over the next five years and we were able to deliver on that in 18 months. And so, our peers know what is needed in the community."
Gauvin credited the centre's peers for dreaming up their drop-in centre.
"They're very realistic in their asks, but they also know how to get the work done and they're willing to roll up their sleeves and get it done. There are peers who are formal peers and then there are people that are paid and work in the organization and then there are peers who come here every day and do supportive acts or acts of kindness for their community every day."
Included in the funding announcement today of the $23.9 million through the Community Action Fund, the cash will support a total of 26 community-based interventions to address HIV, hepatitis C, and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections among key populations disproportionately affected by these infections, according to Ottawa.