The Ontario Provincial Ministerial Roundtable on Criminal Law and HIV met on December 5, 2016. Participating in the meeting were: Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues Tracy MacCharles, Minister of the Environment Glen Murray, as well as a representative of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Although invited, the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services did not attend the Roundtable. Ryan Peck, HALCO executive director/lawyer, attended the meeting as part of the Ontario Working Group on Criminal Law and HIV Exposure (CLHE http://clhe.ca).
While we were disappointed that Yasir Naqvi, Ontario’s Attorney General, was unwilling to issue a statement that acknowledges the over-criminalization of people with HIV and that the law is out of step with science (as the federal government did in their December 1, 2016 statement), we welcome his assurance that he is looking forward to learning more about the federal government’s approach to the issue and is open to engaging in a meaningful dialogue with CLHE. We further welcome the comments of Tracy MacCharles, Ontario’s Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, that she too is open to working with the federal government and that the issue will be discussed at the Premier’s Roundtable on Violence Against Women.
We reiterate our long-standing call for the provincial government to immediately develop guidelines for Crown prosecutors handling allegations of HIV non-disclosure. The guidelines must ensure that such prosecutions are:
- informed by a complete and accurate understanding of current medical and scientific research about HIV; and
- compatible with broader scientific, medical, public health, and community efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and to provide care, treatment and support to people living with HIV.
If you are living with HIV in Ontario and have questions about the criminalization of HIV or other legal issues, please contact us for free legal advice.