1st day: One new clinic. Casey House is the new host of Blue Door Clinic, a community collaboration providing interim health care and social supports to people living with HIV who do not have health insurance. Learn more here.

2nd day: Two seasons of Positively Speaking. The second season of our podcast launched this spring, with guests sharing more incredible stories about their experiences living with HIV. Listen to Positively Speaking here.

3rd day: Three decades of Art With Heart. Our charitable auction of contemporary Canadian art celebrated 30 years of art and philanthropy this fall, and raised over $1 million. Visit artwithheart.ca here.

4th day: Four fish on the floor. Our outpatient supervised consumption services (SCS) is home to four colourful fish, who occupy the chill out lounge, where clients go after consuming their substances. Learn more about our SCS here.

5th day: Five Casey Awards recipients. It was a pleasure to recognize five outstanding recipients of the 2022 Casey Awards this past March at a celebration event. Read about all five here.

6th day: Six special outpatient clinics. Outpatient services continue to grow, and now include six special clinics: a street ID, tax, eye testing, hair styling, eat well clinics. Find the schedule of outpatient groups and clinics here.

7th day: Seven days left to donate this year. On day seven there will be seven days left to donate and receive a tax-deductible receipt for 2023. Donate now.

8th day: Eight panels on the 2009 quilt. This year we unveiled two new memorial quilts, honouring clients who passed away in Casey House’s care in 2009 and in 2014. Volunteers design and sew each quilt.

9th day: Nine June’s HIV+ Eatery chefs. This year’s meal was prepared by a team of professional chefs and nine people living with HIV who generously contributed their time and experience to help smash stigma. Learn more here.

10th day: Ten flag-bearing clients. It was an honour to have our clients help carry the Pride flag at the Toronto Blue Jays’ Pride weekend home opener in June alongside members of other pioneering queer organizations.

11th day: Eleven Stratford visitors. In preparation for Stratford’s production of Casey and Diana, we hosted eleven members of the cast and crew to see Casey House in person, meet with someone living with HIV, and pour over photos of Princess Diana’s 1991 visit to the house. The play is being remounted by Soulpepper in January, learn more here.

12th day: Twelve peers supporting clients. Twelve peers leveraged their lived experience with just over 1100 hours of peer support visits, almost the equivalent of a full-time staff member. Learn about our peer support program here.

 

TORONTO, ON (October 2, 2023) – As of today, Blue Door Clinic, a community collaboration offering interim health care for people living with HIV who are precariously or uninsured, is now hosted at Casey House.

Being HIV+ without access to medication can be life-threatening. The clinic’s free and confidential services include HIV primary care from physicians and nurse practitioners, laboratory testing, referrals to specialists, connection to medication access programs, case management support, and referral to community services to address social determinant needs such as housing, legal services, and immigration support.

Since 2019, Blue Door Clinic has been hosted at Regent Park Community Health Centre. The clinic’s steering committee was looking for a new home for the clinic and Casey House, a long-standing partner of the project, is well positioned to host and add value: the hospital has expertise in HIV care, as well as expertise and infrastructure in other areas to augment the clinic’s work, including research, evaluation, and knowledge mobilization, and can assist in building provider capacity.

Medical care and case support will continue to be provided in-kind by a rotating group of multidisciplinary health service providers from partner agencies, and Blue Door Clinic clients will now have access to Casey House’s outpatient services: group programs facilitated by interdisciplinary team members, a hot midday meal, supervised consumption services (SCS), peer support, and individual appointments with a physiotherapist, mental health clinicians, harm reduction workers, and recreational therapists.

Regent Park Community Health Centre physician and Blue Door Clinic co-founder Dr. Alan Li is happy to see the clinic offer patients access to additional services. He says, “Noninsured people living with HIV face complex barriers in accessing care and support. Moving to Casey House is another successful step forward in the Blue Door Clinic collaborative partnership. It gives me great hope and excitement that we can expand our hours of services and enable clients to access a wider range of on-site services.”

Li goes on to express gratitude for the ground-breaking work of the partner organizations. The Blue Door Clinic’s current steering committee is chaired by Casey House CEO Joanne Simons, and includes representatives from Regent Park Community Health Centre, Community Alliance for Accessible Treatment (CAAT), Fife House, Hassle Free Clinic, Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre, Sherbourne Health, and the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation (PWA).

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Casey House is unlike any other hospital. We are a specialty hospital in Toronto providing ground-breaking care to people living with and at risk of HIV. Together with our clients, staff, peers and volunteers, we strive to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels safe. We offer a growing mix of inpatient, outpatient and community-based services that meet clients where they are in their individual journeys of health and wellness. Building on a legacy of advocacy and social justice, we actively dismantle barriers to care and safe living. We provide a community and sense of belonging that connects people to care. The humanity of each client is at the heart of everything we do.

Blue Door clinic is a community collaboration providing interim health care and social supports to people living with HIV in the greater Toronto area who do not have health insurance coverage or access to HIV medication.

Learn more:
Bluedoorclinic.org

To book an interview with Blue Door Clinic founder Dr. Alan Li or Casey House chief executive officer Joanne Simons, or for more information, contact:

Lisa McDonald
Casey House
lmcdonald@caseyhouse.ca
647-224-4415

Casey House is pleased that Bill C-22 – Canada Disability Benefit Act has received Royal Assent and is now law. This new federal law establishes the Canada Disability Benefit (CDB), to reduce poverty and support the financial security of working-age persons with disabilitiesa population “more likely to live in poverty than working-age persons without disabilities, because of economic and social exclusion” and that requires targeted benefits. 

Casey House serves clients with disabilities, particularly those with illnesses or conditions that are “episodic” – meaning, they vary in severity and duration and can include periods of wellness. Most clients are HIV+ and contend with multiple chronic conditions – many of which are exacerbated by the drug poisoning crisis, housing crisis, and rising cost of living. Our hospital is committed to understanding our clients’ health concerns in the broader context of their lives – including their income and financial situation, which is an area of high need. 

Throughout the legislative process, Casey House appreciated the opportunity to comment on Bill C-22. As outlined in our most recent submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (SOCI), we highlighted the importance of ensuring that the CDB is designed and delivered to: 

  • Support people with episodic disabilities living in poverty: examples of episodic disabilities include chronic conditions and diseases such as HIV, mental illness, and substance use disorder. People with episodic disabilities face unique barriers to financial security and require supports that enable them to meet their basic needs. 
  • Reach people with disabilities living in poverty who face barriers to filing income tax returns: the CDB will be based on annual income tax returns, however for people living in deep poverty, such as those without housing, it can be difficult to file their taxes regularly. If barriers to tax filing are not addressed, we risk the CDB not reaching those who need it most. 
  • Ensure that people with disabilities living in poverty continue to have uninterrupted access to health benefits through provincial disability support programs: most Casey House clients receive income support from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), which also provides coverage for life-saving medications. Implementing the CDB will require coordination between different levels of government to ensure people have continued, uninterrupted access to provincial health benefits to meet their health care needs. 

As the federal government now proceeds to developing the regulations to guide the design and delivery of this new benefit, Casey House looks forward to continuing to advocate for the CDB to effectively reach all workingage persons with disabilities living in poverty, and critically, for the CDB to be adequately funded to improve the financial security of people with disabilities living in poverty. 

Casey House recognizes and acknowledges that systemic inequities deeply affect our clients, and believes it is our responsibility to advocate for compassionate and socially-just health care. Our advocacy seeks to address the structural barriers that prevent optimal health, and improve the well-being of all people living with or at risk of HIV. To learn more, visit Advocacy. 

As a specialty hospital in Toronto providing care for people living with and at risk of HIV, Casey House serves people who face multiple barriers to having their basic needs met. We acknowledge that systemic inequities have a profound effect on people’s lives, and believe that everyone deserves judgment-free care – both within and beyond our hospital. With the continuing drug poisoning crisis, housing crisis, and rising cost of living, the need to address the social factors that determine health and well-being is beyond urgent; and tackling these challenges requires thoughtful, transparent, accountable, and compassionate leadership that views people for their humanity amidst the challenges they face.

With less than a month until the mayoral by-election, we are sharing three principles that the next Mayor of Toronto must champion to improve health care and outcomes for people in high need:

1. Housing is a human right, and stable housing and safe living conditions are essential to health and well-being

2. Substance use is a health issue, not a criminal justice issue, and people who use drugs should not be criminalized

3. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect amidst the challenges they face, when interacting with local government

1. Housing is a human right, and stable housing and safe living conditions are essential to health and well-being

It is well known that homelessness and precarious housing are at crisis points in Toronto; in fact, Toronto City Council recently declared homelessness an emergency. In addition to a lack of affordable housing options for all income levels, there is a constant lack of emergency shelter spaces to accommodate the volume of people experiencing homelessness – a population in which Black, Indigenous, and other racialized groups continue to be over-represented. Given this reality, many people are sleeping outdoors, including in homeless encampments. The absence of a safe, stable place to sleep and access to the necessities of life makes it difficult to attain stability and adhere to a daily routine, which negatively impacts people’s physical and mental health, particularly during periods of inclement weather. As one Casey House nurse expressed, “For people without housing, managing their health requires so many things they just don’t have access to.”

The city’s housing charter and action plan recognize that housing is essential to the inherent dignity and well-being of the person, however this human right to housing is far from realized. While progress has been made, and while other orders of government have a role to play, there is much more work to do. The next Mayor of Toronto must exercise their power and responsibility to uphold and fulfill the human right to housing for all Torontonians. This entails allocating the maximum available resources, and using all appropriate means, to provide equitable, low-barrier access to adequate housing; and heeding the recommendations of Toronto’s Ombudsman to ensure a fair, consistent, transparent, and accountable response to homeless encampments.

2. Substance use is a health issue, not a criminal justice issue, and people who use drugs should not be criminalized

Despite substance use being a health issue it is treated as a criminal justice issue in Canada, which creates barriers to health services, particularly for people living in deep poverty. It leads health care providers to require that people stop using drugs in order to receive care; deters people from accessing services and supports which would build their resilience and improve their well-being; and drives the inevitable market of illegal drugs which have become increasingly toxic. Moreover, the criminalization of drugs is rooted in colonialism and racism, not in science or public health, and disproportionately impacts Black and Indigenous communities.

In Toronto, promising work is underway to address this systemic barrier: Toronto Public Health’s request to Health Canada to decriminalize illicit drug possession is a decisive policy action. Allowing the possession of drugs for personal use is imperative for decreasing stigma, creating pathways to health care, and improving health outcomes. Equally critical is how this policy change is implemented: it must be supported by a wide range of health and social services that respond to the diverse needs of people who use drugs, including harm reduction – a people-centred and evidence-based approach that aims to reduce the risks of substance use without judgment or preconditions of support. The next Mayor of Toronto must continue to lead and support the critical work underway to help protect people from a toxic drug supply; reduce the harms of substance use, including stigma and discrimination; and respect the health, dignity and human rights of people who use drugs.

3. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect amidst the challenges they face, when interacting with local government

The city’s community safety and well-being plan strives for Toronto to “Become a Trauma-Informed and Responsive City”, one that is “grounded and directed by a thorough understanding of the complete impacts of trauma, adversity, racism and violence on people, families and neighbourhoods.”

A trauma-informed approach accepts and understands the impact of trauma on someone’s life; provides an opportunity for people to express their needs and experiences without feeling judged; and cultivates safety in every interaction to build trusting relationships. In our city, this means providing supports and infrastructure that are accessible and responsive to people’s circumstances and reflect the lived experiences of people from all walks of life, so that everyone feels safe, supported, and respected. The next Mayor of Toronto must champion Toronto’s commitment to becoming a trauma-informed and responsive city by acknowledging the profound effects of systemic inequities on people’s lives; ensuring that city services are delivered to help people to achieve stability in their lives and address the barriers they face; and espouse the fundamental notion that everyone deserves judgment-free care and support.

Leading with unequivocal compassion

All levels of government have a vital role to play in addressing the social factors that determine health and well-being, and in improving health care and outcomes for people in high need. As Toronto embarks on a new chapter of municipal political leadership, thoughtfulness, transparency, accountability, and compassion are imperative to promoting the health, dignity, and human rights of all Torontonians.


Casey House recognizes and acknowledges that systemic inequities deeply affect our clients, and believes it is our responsibility to advocate for compassionate and socially-just health care. Our advocacy seeks to address the structural barriers that prevent optimal health, and improve the well-being of all people living with or at risk of HIV. To learn more, visit
Advocacy.

 

Black History Month is an opportunity to honour Black Canadians and the contributions they make to this country, which span hundreds of years, back to the early 1600s. As a hospital with HIV expertise, it is also an opportunity to call attention to the reality that Black communities are over-represented in rates of HIV, and to consider this population’s distinct health care needs. Statistics show that African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) communities are disproportionately affected by the virus: although these communties made up less than 5% of Ontario’s population in 2015, they accounted for 25% of all new HIV diagnoses.

Barriers to accessing education and employment opportunities, and systemic racism, contribute to the ACB population in Ontario being at higher risk of acquiring HIV, and all too frequently stigma prevents people from accessing prevention, testing and treatment.

A recent study of HIV prevalence and risk factors among ACB people in Ontario¹ suggests that addressing social determinants of health, in particular income and employment related factors, might help lower their risk of acquiring HIV. As a hospital that embraces a holistic approach to health care, we are committed to considering these social factors that determine health and well-being when planning an individual’s care and to providing opportunities to address those factors through our services and programming. We also help reduce barriers to accessing health care by meeting clients where they are on their individual journeys of health and wellness, and taking time to partner with them to reach their health goals.

Another part of our hospital’s approach is to provide culturally-sensitive care without judgement. Creating an inclusive environment takes time, and trust, and in addition to refining our own service offerings, we build partnerships in the community to learn, share knowledge and make connections.

While Casey House’s philosophy and model of care helps support this population, having a team of staff, peers and volunteers that is reflective of the people we serve is also important; providers with lived experience is integral to delivering equitable health care. Casey House is committed to building such a team; one that reflects the diversity of the community in which we live and serve, and encourages learners, job seekers, and those wishing to volunteer, to explore opportunities to join our team.

In addition to highlighting the health needs of the ACB population during Black History Month, we are committed to celebrating Black achievement by continuing to build internal knowledge and by hosting month-specific programming. At the same time, we are also taking the opportunity to look at how Casey House as an organization, and how each team member, is contributing to anti-Black racism and re-committing ourselves to dismantling the structures and behaviours that perpetuate racism. This is critical to the health of our team, our organization, and the clients we serve.

  1. A cross-sectional investigation of HIV prevalence and risk factors among African, Caribbean and Black people in Ontario: The A/C Study, October 2022. Lawrence Mbuagbaw, Winston Husbands, Shamara Baidoobonso, Daeria Lawson, Muna Aden, Josephine Etowa, LaRon Nelson, Wangari Tharao

As a specialty hospital in Toronto that provides care for people who face multiple barriers to having their basic needs met, Casey House was pleased to share our recommendations for the 2023 Ontario Budget, as part of the public consultation process.

Casey House is committed to understanding our clients’ health concerns in the broader context of their lives. With the continuing drug poisoning crisis, housing crisis, and rising cost of living, the need to address the social factors that determine health and well-being is beyond urgent.

Casey House’s recommendations at a glance

While progress has been made in communities across the province, there is much more work to do – particularly to support people in high need for housing, mental health, and substance use supports. As a hospital, Casey House encourages the Ontario government to increase and improve access to:

  • Supportive housing for people coping with mental health and substance use challenges
  • Mental health and addictions care that doesn’t require abstinence from substance use
  • Wide-ranging harm reduction services and supports as part of overall health care

Casey House's recommendations

Read our full pre-budget submission for the 2023 Ontario Budget

The provincial government will table its 2023 Budget this spring.

Casey House recognizes and acknowledges that systemic inequities deeply affect our clients, and believes it is our responsibility to advocate for compassionate and socially-just health care. Our advocacy seeks to address the structural barriers that prevent optimal health, and improve the well-being of all people living with or at risk of HIV. To learn more, visit Advocacy.

As a specialty hospital in Toronto that provides care for people who face multiple barriers to having their basic needs met, Casey House was pleased to comment on the City of Toronto’s 2023 Budget, as part of the public consultation process.

Casey House is committed to understanding our clients’ health concerns in the broader context of their lives – including their housing and income situations, which continue to be areas of high need. With the continuing drug poisoning crisis, housing crisis, and rising cost of living, the need to address the social factors that determine health and well-being is beyond urgent.

Casey House’s recommendations at a glance

While progress has been made to improve the health and well-being of people in Toronto, there is much more work to do – particularly to support the estimated 18,000 people experiencing homelessness in our city, while they continue to wait for more safe, affordable, and supportive housing. As a hospital, Casey House encourages the City of Toronto to increase and improve access to:

  • Emergency shelter spaces with citywide locations that enable people to remain geographically close to their support systems and networks.
  • Low-barrier 24-hour drop-in spaces, respite sites, warming centres during winter months, and fixed-site cooling centres during summer months.
  • Storage services for personal belongings, such as medications and critical documentation.
  • Income tax clinics and identification clinics to enable more people to apply for long-term housing and income support programs.

The Budget Committee wraps up its review process January 24, Mayor John Tory releases proposed budget by February 1, City Council votes on the budget February 14.

Casey House's recommendations

Read our full letter to the City of Toronto’s 2023 Budget Committee

Toronto residents and businesses are encouraged to participate in the process, and can provide written comments and feedback to the Budget Committee by email: buc@toronto.ca. Learn more at the City of Toronto’s website.

Casey House recognizes and acknowledges that systemic inequities deeply affect our clients, and believes it is our responsibility to advocate for compassionate and socially-just health care. Our advocacy seeks to address the structural barriers that prevent optimal health, and improve the well-being of all people living with or at risk of HIV. To learn more, visit Advocacy.

In celebration of the 12 Days of Casey House Christmas

1st day: One Inhalation SCS booth. Casey House was proud to open the first indoor supervised inhalation space for substance use in the province. Adding the option to smoke illicit drugs to our other supervised consumption services (SCS), allows people to use safely with privacy and dignity, and helps prevent overdose deaths. SCS is open to inpatient clients 24 hours a day, and from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on weekdays for outpatient clients.   

 

2nd day: Two streams of service (inpatient/outpatient). Our hospital provides care to the community in two different ways. Our traditional 14 inpatient rooms are for those needing 24/7 nursing care and daily access to a physician. Outpatient clients can access the nursing clinic, supervised consumption services, individual appointments with a range of clinicians, and group programming.  

 

3rd day: Three pressing issues for Toronto. Casey House is advocating for the City of Toronto to address three pressing issues that impact people in high need: deep poverty; toxic supply of unregulated drugs; and criminalization of drugs and the people who use them. Learn more about these issues and our recommendations here. 

 

4th day: Four Intro to Harm Reduction Education videos. Our four-part Harm Reduction Capacity Building Training series helps health care and support service providers caring for people affected by HIV contextualize unique lived experiences. Originally created as an internal learning resource for staff , the limited series was repurposed to share our principles of trauma-informed care and harm reduction widely. The series features members of Casey House’s network of community organizations.  

 

5th day: Five episodes of Positively Speaking. Our audio podcast Positively Speaking launched in 2020 and shares first-person accounts of life with HIV. Each episode discusses how living with HIV impacts other facets of one’s life, like relationships or mental health. We’re excited to announce that season 2 is set to release in early 2023, making now the perfect time to catch up and relisten to season 1. Positively Speaking is available wherever you listen to podcasts, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or on our website. 

Positively Speaking Podcast

 

6th day: Six real stories of stigma. Alongside our release of Others, the dramatic short film, we created six short documentaries featuring real people recounting real stigma.  Peter, Alphonso, Amutha, Ower, Brenden, and Alex shared their experiences in dealing with HIV stigma and overcoming it. Watch them all here at SmashStigma.ca   

 

7th day: Seventh local hospital to receive a sacred Indigenous hand drum. In April, Casey House was grateful to receive a sacred drum for clients, staff, peers, volunteers and families to use for ceremonies and spiritual practices. The drum was gifted by The Toronto Central Regional Indigenous Cancer Program (TCR-ICP) in recognition of Casey House’s ongoing work and commitment to build relationships and improve the care and experience of Indigenous staff and community members. 

 

8th day: Eight featured storytellers at Voices for World AIDS Day. On World AIDS Day, we were honoured to hear from eight incredible Black women who have made strides in the HIV sector. Artists, advocates, and community health leaders, we were moved by stories from d’bi.young anitafrika, Jully Black, Racquel Bremmer, Sane Dube, Muluba Habanyama, Molly Johnson, Marvelous Muchenje, and Lena Soje.   

 

9th day: Nine new outpatient group offerings: Pantry builders, Housing Information, Navigating Grief, The Heart of Art, Winter Warm-up, Pet Therapy, Indigenous Cultural Fridays, Indigenous Grief and Healing, and Indigenous Drumming Circle are nine new programs being offered in our Winter season. We applaud the day health team for continually creating new and exciting programs for our clients.    

 

10th day: Ten co-authors on the MRAT poster: This summer, the Casey House research team presented their Multipurpose Resilience Assessment Tool at the AIDS 2022 conference in Montreal. This integrated client engagement, assessment and follow-up tool that also generates holistic health data was designed by an interdisciplinary working group.  

 

11th day: Eleven o’clock healing drum circle on Tuesdays: Each Tuesday afternoon from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Rod Michano, Spiritual Advisor from PWA, hosts a circle for learning about Indigenous identity and to support our Indigenous clients’ health. Check out our Winter DHP schedule for more info!  

 

12th day: Twelve o’clock lunch program: Every weekday at noon, staff and volunteers provide hundreds of hot meals for our client to provide nourishment and an opportunity for socialization. In the first six months of this fiscal year, we provided 7,911 lunches! 

 

As a specialty hospital that provides care for people living with and at risk of HIV, Casey House was pleased to comment on federal Bill C-22 – Canada Disability Benefit Act, which seeks to establish the Canada Disability Benefit (CDB) to reduce poverty and support the financial security of working-age persons with disabilities.

Casey House serves clients with disabilities, particularly those with illnesses or conditions that are “episodic” – meaning, they vary in severity and duration and can include periods of wellness. Most clients are HIV+ and contend with multiple chronic conditions – many of which are exacerbated by the overdose crisis, housing crisis, and rising cost of living. Our hospital is committed to understanding our clients’ health concerns in the broader context of their lives – including their income and financial situation, which is an area of high need.

Casey House’s brief at a glance

With the rising cost of living and risk of a recession, the need for the CDB is urgent. Casey House calls for the swift passage of Bill C-22 so that this disability benefit can be designed and delivered as quickly as possible to:

1. Support people with episodic disabilities living in poverty: examples of episodic disabilities include chronic conditions and diseases such as HIV, mental illness, and substance use disorder. People with episodic disabilities face unique barriers to financial security and require supports that enable them to meet their basic needs.

2. Reach people with disabilities living in poverty who face barriers to filing income tax returns: the CDB would be based on annual income tax returns, however for people living in deep poverty, such as those without housing, it can be difficult to file their taxes regularly. If barriers to tax filing are not addressed, we risk the CDB not reaching those who need it most.

3. Ensure that people with disabilities living in poverty continue to have uninterrupted access to health benefits through provincial disability support programs: most Casey House clients receive income support from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), which also provides coverage for life-saving medications. Implementing the CDB will require coordination between different levels of government to ensure people have continued, uninterrupted access to provincial health benefits to meet their health care needs.

This bill is currently being studied by a Parliamentary Committee in the House of Commons, and must pass both the House and Senate in order to become law. The faster Bill C-22 is passed, the faster the Canada Disability Benefit can be designed and delivered to reach all working-age people with disabilities living in poverty, to improve their financial security and health and wellbeing.

Casey House's brief on Bill C-22

Read our full submission to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

You can learn more about Bill C-22 and follow its progress at the Parliament of Canada website.

Casey House recognizes and acknowledges that systemic inequities deeply affect our clients, and believes it is our responsibility to advocate for compassionate and socially-just health care. Our advocacy seeks to address the structural barriers that prevent optimal health, and improve the well-being of all people living with or at risk of HIV. To learn more, visit Advocacy.