Grandmothers, as part of a cross-Canada demonstration, are rallying in Winnipeg to send a message to Members of Parliament that they must pass Bill C-398. This bill will reform Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime so that affordable life-saving medicines can get to people who need them in the developing world.

Where: Under the canopy at The Forks

When: November 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Organized by: Grands ‘n’ More Winnipeg, affiliate of the Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN)

Program to include: African drummers, CBC’s Ismaila Alfa as Emcee, Speakers: Judy Wasylycia-Leis and Mwaka Kaonga (originally from Zambia), and traditional singer Co-Co Ray

Despite gains made against the AIDS epidemic, the stark reality is that there are still more than 7.5 million people worldwide who do not have access to HIV/AIDS treatment and, without medicines, more than half of the babies born with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa do not reach their second birthday. By passing this bill, Canada can improve access to affordable medicines in countries where HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria are an acute public health threat and a compelling humanitarian issue. GRAN is hopeful that this groundswell of support from Canadian grandmothers and civil society organizations will remind parliamentarians of the urgent need to pass this legislation.

Canada was an early implementer of the World Trade Organization’s 2003 decision to allow generic formulations of patented medicines to be exported to eligible developing countries. In 2004, the Canadian Parliament was unanimous in its approval of Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR). Since then, this well intended legislation has proven so cumbersome that almost no medicines have left our shores. Last year, a bill to fix CAMR was passed in the House, but died in the Senate when the election was called. Bill C-398 is a renewed attempt to fulfil Canada’s eight-year-old promise to the world’s poor and critically ill. More than 100 NGOs endorse the passage of the bill, among them UNICEF Canada, the Canadian HIV-AIDS Legal Network, and Uganda’s AIDs Support Organization (TASO).

The Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN) is a national organization that acts as a Canadian voice for grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa caring for millions of AIDS-orphaned children. GRAN works to change Canadian policies that will improve the quality of life for these grandmothers and the grandchildren in their care.