AIDS Calgary slams safe injection rules set out by Ottawa
Proposed legislation around drug-use facilities based on ideology not science, group says
AIDS Calgary has come out against the federal government's new rules governing the approval process for safe injection sites.
Under the Respect for Communities Act, anyone wanting to open a facility similar to what is found in Vancouver will be required to present impact studies and consult with police, health authorities, as well as municipal and provincial governments.
According to AIDS Calgary spokeswoman Andrea Carter, the new rules are informed by ideology rather than science.
"This decision is definitely discouraging. We see it as a move away from evidence-based policy," she said.
There have been several studies of safe injection sites which show there are significant public health benefits and huge cost savings for the health system, Carter said.
Eugene Oscapella, a lawyer and founding member of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, said community groups do not have the resources to conduct the massive consultations required under the new rules.
"They're putting out so many hurdles, so many obstacles, so many hoops to jump through to get these things it’s virtually impossible. It's completely dishonest on the part of the government," he said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government was prompted to come up with the proposed legislation because of a Supreme Court ruling it lost in 2011. The landmark decision forced Ottawa to allow Vancouver’s Insite injection facility to remain open.
The court said not giving the clinic an exemption from drug laws would be a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said at the time the government was disappointed with the ruling.
The Conservative Party of Canada is also making its position on the clinics known, recently sending out a letter encouraging people to "keep heroin out of our backyards."
"Do you want a supervised drug consumption site in your community? These are facilities where drug addicts get to shoot up heroin and other illicit drugs," it reads.
The letter says the NDP and Liberals are "against us" and want more clinics like Insite "maybe even in your community."