The Quebec government is giving the green light to new safe injection sites for addicts to shoot up under supervision.
Health Minister Yves Bolduc said Tuesday he supports the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision to keep the Insite safe injection clinic open in Vancouver.
The SCOC decision ruled that not allowing the clinic to operate under a drug law exemption would be a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The decision removes any remaining barriers for Quebec to forge ahead with government-supported injection clinics, Bolduc said.
Quebec is now accepting proposals for safe injection sites —which could open their doors in the coming months in Montreal and Quebec City.
Bolduc said safe injection sites will save lives, and reduce costs to the health-care system.
Two organizations have already expressed interest in opening such clinics — Cactus in Montreal, and Point de Repères in Quebec City.
The proposed clinics would be run as pilot projects, and will be required to meet social acceptability standards, while working in collaboration with the police, Bolduc said.
The sites would not provide drugs to addicts, but would offer a safe, supervised environment for users, in the event of a major health issue, such as cardiac or respiratory arrest.
Both organizations proposing safe injection sites are being urged to open several small scale locations, rather than one large centre, like the one in Vancouver, the health minister said.
In its landmark decision, the Supreme Court ordered the Conservative government to abandon its effort to close Vancouver's Insite clinic, and to grant an immediate exemption to allow Insite to operate.
The high court also ruled that exemptions must be put in place to protect staff from prosecution for drug possession or trafficking.