May 12, 2021
Our Guiding Principles
Many people wonder how Black CAP does its work. Our work is guided by our motto: Because all Black people’s lives are important. This motto frames our commitment to values such as MIPA, gender equity, anti-oppression, anti-homophobia, and the elimination of HIV stigma, criminalization, sex-positivity, access for people with disabilities, anti-harassment and workplace violence, anti-Black racism and the stigma against those who use substances. Black CAP is committed to these values because we represent marginalized and racialized communities who have experienced meaningful barriers to service access. It’s our role to ensure these values are reflected in our everyday work and to ensure that those who come to the agency do not experienced such barriers.
Our Commitment to MIPA
Black CAP is committed to the meaningful involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS (MIPA). This commitment ensures that we seek the leadership of PHAs in the management of our organization, the delivery of services, and in meeting our mission.
In 2012, Black CAP endorsed the Ontario Accord. The Ontario Accord was developed by the Ontario AIDS Network and articulates the importance of PHA leadership in the HIV sector. The Accord states:
“We, people living with HIV/AIDS and allies in the community:
- Commit to the greater involvement and meaningful engagement of people living with HIV/AIDS (GIPA/MIPA); GIPA/MIPA puts PHAs at the centre and is grounded in human rights and the dignity of the full human being
- Aim to transform all who live with, work in, and are affected by, HIV/AIDS in Ontario
- Commit to personal and social transformation
- Value community expertise in embracing the challenge for the betterment of society
- Value inclusion over exclusion, a quest for integrity at all times and the embodiment of self-determination
- Promote the evolution of thought, action and collaboration among us and with our allies
Because GIPA/MIPA is about human struggles and aspirations, ethics, empowerment and accountability are its foundation.”
Our Commitment to Harm Reduction
A harm reduction philosophy considers risk-taking behavior as a natural part of our world and suggests that our work focus on minimizing the harmful effects of these behaviors rather than focusing on the cessation of the behaviors. The harm reduction philosophy supports the involvement of individuals in the creation of and/or delivery of programs and services that are designed to serve their individual needs. To support our service users, Black CAP’s programs and services will be offered in a non-discriminatory and non-oppressive manner, supported by the organization’s Anti-oppression, Access and Inclusion Policy, etc.
A harm reduction perspective recognizes that activities associated with drug use, drug distribution, sex, and sex work are invariable parts of society including among various Black communities across the City of Toronto. An abstinence-based approach does not meet the needs of everyone and is not a prerequisite to accessing services. A wider spectrum of harm reduction services that involves minimizing risks is crucial and these services include the distribution of safer drug and sex supplies, support services, HIV/AIDS services, education, and referrals to specialized services such as mental health services, primary health care services, methadone clinics, withdrawal management services etc.
Our harm reduction philosophy and practice recognizes the impact of issues such as poverty, classism, racism and anti-Black racism, homophobia, social isolation, past trauma, and other social inequities on both people's vulnerability to and capacity for effectively deal with risk-taking behavior.
Harm reduction strives to create an environment that fosters support and acceptance where each person is treated with respect and dignity. We practice compassion, non-judgement, and anti-oppressive principles that help fight the stigma and marginalization that accompanies mental health, HIV/AIDS and substance use issues. Furthermore, it serves as a vehicle to connect clients who have been marginalized from the larger societal context and promotes inclusion.
Harm reduction relies heavily on evidence-informed practice coupled with the expertise gained through individuals’ lived experience and creates opportunities to engage clients to share their knowledge, inform service, and program planning as well as become involved as peer educators.
Our Commitment to Anti-Oppression
Black CAP supports the understanding that the diverse communities served by the organization contribute to the growth, enrichment and strength of Black CAP and of the larger community. We also acknowledge the reality that oppressed groups in our communities often encounter barriers to full access and participation, particularly people affected by or living with HIV/AIDS.
It is the policy of Black CAP to provide an environment which is free of discrimination and harassment. Members of the Black CAP community are entitled to fair and equitable treatment.
Black CAP will not tolerate and will address any intentional or unintentional acts of oppression towards an individual or a group of people that creates barriers to access or inclusion on the basis of HIV status, race/colour, ethnicity, ancestry, religion/creed, class, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, receipt of public assistance, political affiliation, record of offences, level of literacy, citizenship/immigration status, country of origin, religion, mental health status, age, type of housing, neighbourhood of residence, language, family status, health, ability or any other aspects of personal identity in all areas of its operation and at all levels of the organization.
Black CAP is committed to ensuring that our mission and operations embrace our entire communities. Black CAP encourages our communities to participate fully and to have complete access to our services, employment, Board membership and volunteer opportunities. We will make every effort to see that our structure, policies and systems reflect all aspects of the total community and to promote equal access to all.
To this end, Black CAP is committed to:
- Working from an inclusive, sex positive, harm reduction, anti-racist, anti-oppression, and participatory framework in addressing the issue of access to health care for our mandated priority populations encompassing all the determinants of health.
- The elimination of all forms of oppression in our structures, systems, hiring practices and provision of programs and services in order to create and maintain an accessible safe environment that facilitates equitable, open and respectful participation of employee, clients, volunteers, students, community and board members
- Examining and improving all our interactions, practices, policies and protocols, services and programs on an ongoing basis, to ensure compliance with this policy and that we are consistently accountable to being inclusive and barrier free
- Encouraging members of the Black CAP community to be self-reflective, analyze their own behaviours and biases, make a conscious effort to be inclusive not to cause or participate in behaviour that contributes to the oppression of others.
- Being proactively engaged in anti-oppression training for our employees, Board, volunteers, students, partners, clients and to foster anti-oppression values, attitudes, and practices
- Ensuring that PHAs have complete and equitable access to our services
- Ensuring PHA participation in leadership and decision making in all areas of the organization through opportunities for employment, volunteering, and Board membership in compliance with the GIPA Principles.
- Ensuring workplace practices that support the health and related needs of PHAs
- Facilitating the participation of people with disabilities by ensuring that policies and practices explicitly identify mechanisms for accessibility and accommodation as well as strategies to address biases in attitudes and beliefs about their capabilities
- The proactive creation of open and affirming environments for the valuing of GLBTTIQQ2S people.
- Increasing awareness of the issues of transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people while taking steps to affirm all trans identities..
- Ensuring appropriate services and equitable treatment for immigrants and refugees inclusive of GLBTTIQQ2S who are clients, employee and volunteers.
- Advocating for the removal of the barriers embedded within the health care system which strongly influence how our clients experience health and how Black/African communities and those who share related national/ethnic identity access and are treated by the health care system
- Supporting other work that is being carried out, including networks, coalitions and community initiatives that are committed to the elimination of oppression specifically, and in all its forms
- Implementing a procedure for dealing with incidents of discriminatory behaviour as defined in this policy and the Ontario Human Rights Code
- Solidarity with native and first nations, peoples and with other oppressed people of colour based on the recognition that our organization occupies the unceded land of the Mississauga of new credit peoples.
Our Commitment to Confidentiality
Black CAP is committed to protecting the privacy of the personal information of its clients, service users, employees, and volunteers and is accountable for all personal information under its custodianship. Black CAP has adopted polices and implemented procedures which ensure that information in any format is protected so that the relationship of trust between the employees, clients, service users, volunteers and the agency is upheld.
Confidentiality of information is a well established principle in health and human service organizations. The potential for harm to individuals makes the issue of confidentiality at Black CAP of extreme importance. The low level of acceptance around the issue of HIV/AIDS in the Black community isolates individuals and is one of the reasons for being protective of any information received. The information received by or through an association with Black CAP is privileged and may cause an individual to be ostracized if it were to be divulged. Confidentiality also extends to personal information received by a staff person from outside sources in the course of their official duties.
Any information acquired through an involvement with Black CAP which identifies an individual by, for example, HIV status, sexual orientation, race, religion, name, address or telephone number is considered confidential. Information related to the business of Black CAP which is not intended for public consumption, for example, client records, shall also be considered confidential.
In cases where there is a breach of confidentiality the agency depends upon a range of policies and procedures to address it. The agency takes breaches of confidentiality extremely seriously as we recognize that the privacy of client, staff, volunteer and service user information is crucial to ensuring safety and trust.
In delivering services, there may be some circumstances where staff will be required to share confidential information without service user consent. Such situations may include the need for immediate medical attention, threats of suicide, and threats about committing a criminal act or indications that a child may be at risk.