The government continues to oppose effective harm reduction with its ‘Respect for Communities Act,’ writes Dr. Mark Tyndall. Meanwhile, lives are being destroyed.
On Sept. 29, 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruled that the federal government could not close down Insite — North America’s only supervised injection facility. The ruling was clear: “applying the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) to Insite was arbitrary, undermining the very purposes of the CDSA, which include public health and safety. It is also grossly disproportionate: the potential denial of health services and the correlative increase in the risk of death and disease to injection drug users outweigh any benefit that might be derived from maintaining an absolute prohibition on possession of illegal drugs on Insite’s premises.”
This Thursday June 13th, the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa will be standing in solidarity with sex workers demanding the decriminalization of their lives and work here in our communities, in all of Canada and globally. This rally is taking place in light of the Supreme Court of Canada Judges hearing the case of Bedford v Canada (the trial regarding Canada’s laws on sex work).
Join CSCS and allies to an informal discussion and Q&A with Dave Diewert, a Downtown Eastside ally and organizer. Learn about the struggle to open Insite and share ideas for the campaign to open a supervised drug consumption site in Ottawa.
When: Saturday, June 15th at 5:00 PM Where: Dundonald Park (across from the Beer Store on Somerset at Lyon) RSVP on Facebook
Our friends at AIDS Action Now! posted a powerful response to the announcement by Minister Aglukkaq of new rules being proposed by the government to restrict the opening of supervised consumption sites in Canada:
In 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Minster of Health Leona Aglukkaq actively violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by trying to shut down Vancouver’s supervised consumption service Insite. Despite this ruling, the Minster is at it again. Today Aglukkaq launched Bill C-65 known as the “Respect for Communities Act”. Despite the semantic public relations games being played with its name, the act itself does nothing but attack, degrade and violate our communities. “We desperately need these life-saving services, but Bill C-65 is aimed at making it more difficult for the opening of supervised consumption services that support the health and human rights of people who use drugs” said Zoe Dodd of the Toronto Drug Users Union.
In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled with respect to Insite that "Where, as here, a supervised injection site will decrease the risk of death and disease, and there is little or no evidence that it will have a negative impact on public safety, the Minister should generally grant an exemption.” Bill C-65 flies in the face of that ruling, imposing many obstacles to the creation of supervised consumption sites. With its Bill, the Conservative government is endangering the lives of thousands of people in what amounts to an attack on the health and human rights of people who use drugs throughout Canada.
Let's show the government that Canadians stand behind these life-saving health facilities.
P.S. - The Canadian Nurses Association has created a petition urging the Health Minister to improve access to health & treatment services for people who use drugs, instead of creating more barriers. Please sign and share!
Supporters of an Ottawa supervised injection site say they are disappointed that the federal government is politicizing a health issue with hurdles that would make it harder to open one here. But they remain undeterred in their push to bring one to Ottawa.
“It is the right thing to do. We know that this is an important intervention and we should continue to move ahead,” said Dr. Mark Tyndall, head of infectious diseases at The Ottawa Hospital, and a strong supporter of an Ottawa safe injection site.
The federal government says it is giving a voice to local communities with a bill introduced today that lays out criteria for getting permission to open a supervised drug injection site in Canada.
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq introduced the proposed respect for communities act in the House of Commons and at a press conference she said the proposed rules are in line with a Supreme Court decision in 2011 that allowed Vancouver's InSite clinic to stay open.
The Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites is a group of community members who advocate for the opening of supervised sites in Ottawa for people who use drugs. We strongly support the work of Pivot and the findings of their report, Throwing Away the Keys.
Mandatory minimum sentences are harmful to low income people with problematic substance use issues in Ottawa, and across the country.
The consequences of longer and more frequent imprisonment are a threat to the health and well-being of people with drug addictions. Loss of housing, reduced employment opportunities, and separation from the support of family and friends only serves to push people to the margins of our society. These destabilizing effects are severe challenges to overcoming addiction.
This report is based on interviews with drug users about their involvement within the criminal justice system, and assesses the potential impacts of new mandatory minimum sentences on low-income drug users.