Hedy Fry, MP for Vancouver Centre and Liberal Health Critic, sent this response to our letter calling on the health minister to take action to support the health of people who use drugs. Thank you Hedy for opposing the Conservative government's attempt to undermine the Supreme Court and hinder the creation of services like Insite in cities across Canada. People who live in Vancouver know how important Insite is to the health and safety of their community!
Thank you for your letter concerning Bill C-65, an Act to Amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, now Bill C-2. The first act of the Conservative government in this session was to reintroduce the “Respect for Communities Act”, which should be more appropriately named the “banning of safe injection sites bill” because of its negative impact on accessing safe injection sites for some of Canada’s most vulnerable citizens.. The Conservative government is acting on ideology rather than evidence.
The Bill exceeds the 2011 Supreme Court of Canada ruling regarding InSite, going well beyond the factors to be considered when granting an exemption of S.56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Bill C-2 raises the criteria to establish a supervised injection site to such an extraordinarily high level that it would be nearly impossible for any future supervised consumption sites to be established in Canada. The Supreme Court ruling, keeping InSite open, was based on proof that InSite saved lives, citing Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedom:, “life, liberty and security of the person”.
Furthermore, only an hour after the legislation was initially introduced, Conservative campaign director Jenni Byrne issued a crass and misleading fundraising letter to supporters stating that the Liberals and NDP want addicts to shoot up heroin in the backyards of communities all across the country. From this, it is clear that the intention of the Conservative government is to fundraise on the backs of some of the most vulnerable people in Canada, those with addictions and mental illness. Addiction is a disease that must be addressed primarily by clinical and public health guidelines.
As a physician, I support evidence-based policies that reduce harm, promote public health and protect public safety. I believe that supervised consumption sites form an integral component of such policies.
On online survey conducted by the Ottawa Sun has found that a majority of respondents believe that Ottawa should have a supervised injection site for people who use drugs.
The survey, which was published on the daily newspaper's website from September 30 to October 5, 2013, posed 9 questions on readers' opinions toward supervised injection services and their effects on the community.
Of the 1,794 people who responded, 56% indicated that Ottawa should open a site, while 51% said that they would accept a site in their own neighbourhood. 58% said that they believed such a site would either not impact or increase the safety and well-being of the surrounding area. (Full results here.)
Dr. Mark Tyndall, Head of Infectious Diseases at the Ottawa Hospital, speaks out for supervised injection sites in Ottawa at an event to mark the second anniversary of the Supreme Court decision on Insite.
A compelling call to action for a proven medical service that would improve the health of people who use drugs, and benefit the entire community.
Tough love didn’t work with Donna May’s daughter. At 34, May’s daughter, a mother of three, was a hardcore IV drug user who died of flesh-eating disease she got through a dirty needle in July 2012.
“Her addiction took her away from me,” said May, one of the guest speakers at the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa rally at 216 Murray St. on Monday. “Tough love didn’t work. It made her vulnerable, alone with her addiction. A supervised injection site would have rehumanized her.”
Thank you to everyone who attended the 9/30 event this morning and packed the PROUD research center at 216 Murray Street. Many people toured the mock injection room to see first-hand how simple it can be to reduce the harms of drug use and save lives in our community.
Thanks also to our amazing speakers, who provided thoughtful, compassionate, and evidence-based reasons for creating supervised injection sites in Ottawa: