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ARCH Guelph shuts down after funding withdrawn

Clinical and support services will be provided through the Guelph Community Health Centre and the AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener Waterloo and Area

ARCH Guelph is closing after serving the Guelph community for 35 years after its funding was withdrawn earlier this week.

The organization, which provided care, treatment and prevention services for those living and at risk of HIV and AIDS, said it was "surprised" by the move.

Services previously provided by ARCH will now be provided by the AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and Area (ACCKWA) and the Guelph Community Health Centre.

ARCH started in Guelph in 1989 and it was known then as AIDS Committee of Guelph. ARCH was formed by a group of community activists to highlight the impact of HIV/AIDS.

Its anticipated closure date is March 31. This comes after it received a message from the Ministry of Health that it would no longer receive funding, stated in a social media post from ARCH’s Instagram page.


A post shared by ARCH (@archguelph)

“This was a big surprise to us. We rely on this funding to support our leadership, women’s community work, harm reduction, trans support programs, HIV support programs, and so much more,” said in the post.

The post thanked the community for its support. It asked for understanding during this difficult time since staff and clients are facing many challenges.

ARCH staff is “at capacity right now working on wind-down pieces” so they aren’t available for an interview, said Summer Lodewycks, youth education coordinator at ARCH, in a message.

“We know for many folks using services, this news is unexpected,” said Melissa Kwiatkowski, CEO of Guelph Community Health Centre (Guelph CHC), in an interview.

“The Ministry of Health reallocated the funding to serve this community to ACCKWA for the HIV support services,” said Kwiatkowski.

Comments have flooded ARCH’s social media post about its closing.

“A big loss for the community, thank you for all that you've done,” said one commentor. 

“This is so defeating to hear. Thank you for supporting those who need it most in our community,” said another commentor.

“Devastating news, we love you folks and we thank you immensely for the life saving work you have done,” said another comment on the post.

Guelph Community Health Centre and ACCKWA will be working together “to make sure that the clinical services which we run and the support services which they will be running in Guelph are integrated and seamless for clients,” said Kwiatkowski.

“We want to ensure that folks that rely on these services can access them,” she said.

“We always, in our engagement, want to work with the communities most impacted and that involves the opportunity to provide some feedback so that we can create services and supports desired by the community,” said Ruth Cameron, executive director of ACCKWA, in an interview.

ACCKWA and Guelph CHC will continue to provide “HIV service delivery to Guelph-Wellington community members, under direction of the Ontario Ministry of Health, effective April 1, 2024,” said in a press release.

ACCKWA will be working out of a temporary space at a Guelph CHC location, until it has a permanent location.

There are no expected disruptions to service.

Guelph CHC has been providing HIV clinical services and gender affirming care since April 1, 2023 and this will remain unchanged.

If clients of Guelph CHC already access those services, they will continue to go to the same location and see the same provider.

For any immediate need for practical support like housing, food, and mental health people can contact ACCKWA or Guelph CHC.

Harm reduction supplies like syringes, alcohol prep pads and distilled water can be picked up at Guelph CHC locations at 176 Wyndham St. North and 77 Westmount Rd.

There will be additional harm reduction programming through Stay Sharp, the needle exchange program, said Kwiatkowski.

Moving forward “we are working fast to keep services running smoothly. We will be looking for feedback and putting more services in place in the next few months,” said in the services update document.

ACCKWA is looking forward to working in the Guelph community. “We feel very passionately about the communities we are a part of and that we walk with,” said Cameron. 

It will aim to provide education, help fight stigma, and create access to services people may not know about. These things are important to ACCKWA and Cameron thinks supports should be tailored to each community it works in.


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